The reading, understanding, rehearsal process and performance of Midnight's most recent production, AN APOLOGY For The Course And Outcome Of Certain Events Delivered By DOCTOR JOHN FAUSTUS On This His Final Evening by Mickle Maher, was sheer joy.
I'd whetted my appetite on Maher's work years before, when Midnight produced his THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS in St. Louis and at The Philadelphia Fringe Festival. AN APOLOGY was a similar experience – unique, smart, challenging, definitely on the fringe – to savor.
As we explored the play, we made a few false starts on a performing space, finally settling on Dressel's Pub, where we'd successfully presented THE GOOD THIEF. Thus Director Sarah Whitney and I seemed to have a little more time than usual to break down the show, and chart our course for this shorter, but still sprawling, script.
And Sarah had the time to work closely with fellow cast member, son Travis, and to
gain insight through correspondence with playwright Maher.
Delivering the piece as Faustus, I delighted in the structure of the show – starting slowly, mysteriously, drawing the audience in, surprising them with the intellectual twists and turns. And I was thrilled with those twists, those turns, the mini-lectures offered by Faustus, as well as with the style of language – formal classical constructs contrasted with other, more contemporary outbursts.
(Less than with HUNCHBACK, but still prevalent in AN APOLOGY was a distinctive style and rhythm of humor which I've felt reflected, actually, Johnny Carson. That may sound odd or too mainstream for this Fringe classic, but it makes sense to me. Mickle no doubt grew up with Johnny in the background, at least, and, like probably the whole country, was influenced by him.)
Audiences were as appreciative as I was of the show. Each night, without exception, they were rapt. Quite, still, watching, hanging on almost every word, waiting for Mephistopheles to spring.
During the insanely busy St. Louis theatre schedule of early summer 2010, our audiences were smaller than expected, and this, along with a natural desire to continue to explore and perform this work, caused me to explore an immediate revival, with an eye to overhauling the production and taking a radically different approach to the show's somewhat abstract canvas. This wasn't out of any dissatisfaction of what we'd done with the show, but more the intrigue of taking it a different way.
Reality, however, set in, and those plans were shelved, but attacking this show once more down the road is a definite probability.
As Mickle said, “This show can be – and has been – done almost almost anywhere.”