It was unusual to walk in to the theatre and see an overpowering sea of whiteness with an enormous pentagram in its midst. But Doctor Faustus is an unusual play. The tale begins with a clever scholar from Wittenberg attempting to decide what to devote his academic life to. He chooses the black arts and quickly becomes proficient. He is able to summon Mephistopheles, an incredibly powerful demon. They agree a pact: in return for 24 years of total power over Mephistopheles, Faustus will sell his soul to Lucifer, an agreement that he bitterly regrets in the end. Faustus’ final monologue, where he is dragged down to hell by Mephistopheles’ demons, is the dramatic crux of the play and was performed harrowingly by the lead, Matthew Given.
The performance started with a foreboding musical introduction, part of an incredibly professional score composed by some of the school’s musicians, Ben Salwey, Adrian Tsui and Christopher Brain. It created a dark, mystical atmosphere as the actors walked on stage, dressed all in black apart from their devils’ tails. The actors then donned the rest of their costumes in full view on stage and took their places on benches at either side. No one left the stage after this. The level of ensemble theatre that this represented was much greater than anything I’ve seen before at Winchester and this desire to create theatre that is less traditional or restricted by rules is very exciting.
There was a slickness to the performance, moments of hilarious comedy and considerable talent from the whole cast. Particular highlights included Dick and Robin’s (Seb Walsh and Luca Ryan) brilliant comedy duo, which ended with them crouching on the ground, bewitched into an ape and a dog; the Good and Bad Angels (Seb Walsh and William Thomson) rocking on swing sets bedazzled with fairy lights; and Mephistopheles’ (Arthur Ritchie) brilliant, physical portrayal of each of the Seven Deadly Sins, one after the other. The whole performance felt avant-garde and new without ever alienating the audience.
31st May 2020
The inaugural PixPot was launched in April, alongside a photography competition open to the whole school community. The Winchester College Photography Society, which is run entirely by pupils at the school, oversaw the competition: securing the involvement of professional judges, drawing up a shortlist, and organising prizes.
18th May 2020
Winchester College has a long reputation for community service. No person is more responsible for this than the remarkable Mrs Clare Talks, Geography don and Director of Community Service. Here she provides a refreshing insight into the environmental impacts of an unseasonably warm Spring and a tranquil, undisturbed lockdown.
15th May 2020
Nat tells us about the perils - and lure - of going out in the sun in London during lockdown.
9th May 2020
James is running to get out of the house, and taking his dog with him.
4th May 2020
Despite missing his last term of Winchester, Thomas is attacking each day with a positive attitude and keeping things in perspective.
29th April 2020
In the second of our series of postcards from home, Matthew tells us about reading, listening to lectures and enjoying nature.