This week’s “Stage” page is a review of Wittenberg, a bawdy comedy about religion and philosophy that’s enjoying an excellent Southwest premiere by Amphibian Productions. Playwright David Davalos’ script imagines what would happen if Faustus (the fictional college professor who sold his soul to the devil) butted heads with Martin Luther (the real life monk who instigated the Protestant Reformation) while both tried to influence Shakespeare’s dithery young prince Hamlet in the early 16th century. Here’s a sneak peek of the show
High-minded as it sounds, the play boils down to some basic “meaning of life” questions you might hear in a bar. Do we decide the course of our own lives, or does God (or Fate) decide it for us? Do scientific reason and religious faith cancel each other out? There are only five more performances of Wittenberg scheduled, so check it out.
My favorite version of the Faustus myth comes from 77 year old Czech animator Jan Svankmajer. Here’s a trippy excerpt from his 1994 feature Faust, in which cocky Professor Faust draws a black magic circle on the floor and summons up the demon Mephistopheles to do his bidding. To represent Protesant reformer Martin Luther, I found a surprisingly accurate and funny seven minute video history lesson on the 16th century Reformation by an online comedy troupe known as Bad Mood Productions.