Eric Pfeffinger’s comic send up of the Faust legend, "Life in the Faust Lane" directed by Scott Greenwell, opened this past weekend at the Bloomington Playwrights Project.
Brian Hartz was the stylish if slightly errant Mephistopheles of the show. In his opening monologue he instructed the audience to keep cell phones on, to please unwrap candy loudly and of course to shoot as many flash pictures as possible. The play got off to a very funny beginning and laughs kept coming.
In "Life in the Faust Lane" playwright Pfeffinger stands the traditional sex farce on its head. Those farces are about the perils of frustration. "Life in the Faust Lane" is all about the perils of consummation. Matt Holzfeind was always a good sport as he played the feckless graduate assistant who is the accidental recipient of the devil’s favors. He asks for a string of nine ladies. With the exception of one mistake…Marie, er…I mean, Murray, as played by Doug Bedwell, and the true love of the graduate assistant, his Gretchen, played by Kathryn McRay. All seven other women on the list were played, and played with aplomb by Emily Radke.
Radke’s characters, as per the agreement with the devil, are all willing but there were some complications. She Demons are attractive, but have terrible breath. That seventh grade crush who spurned our hero is ok about it, but she’s still a seventh grader. The ditzy pop singer is pliable but only after a trip to the mall. Helen of Troy speaks only Greek and keeps calling him Paris. The sporty outdoor model wants to, but only after they’ve done all those sporty things from the catalog. The wildly fanciful dominant heroine of his comic book fantasies is wildly fanciful and, well darned dominant.
Intertwined with these demonically motivated episodes are the young grad’s attempts to woo his true love and to keep his professor, Breshaun-Birene Joyner from finding out what’s been going on in her office. Breshaun-Birene Joyner was very effective as a too successful academic who’s come to loathe a lot about her profession. Playwright Pfeffinger scored a few very funny shots at the academy in jibes of the faculty and students. Conferences and committee meetings took some heat as well.
"Life in the Faust Lane" is a very funny play in a tidy production. It’s especially nice to be able to add that it respects both the multiple morals and the tradition of the original as well.
You can see this and other WFIU theatre, film and opera reviews on our web site at WFIU dot Indiana dot edu.
The Bloomington Playwrights Project production of Eric Pfeffinger’s "Life in the Faust Lane" plays Thursday through Saturday nights at eight and Sunday afternoons at two through June thirtieth.