19/8/09, Lowland Hall, Ingliston (Edinburgh Festival)
We took the airport bus from Waverley Bridge to the Hilton and hiked from the bus stop to the Royal Highland Showground, and at the end we hiked back in pouring rain, though we had, purely by chance, contrived to be sitting right by the exit so were the first of the thousands to get to the bus, with A powering ahead leaving the rest of us trailing.
Beforehand we'd prepared by visiting M&S and stocking up on salads, fruit and what not, which we ate in a corner of the hall before the show started and on the bus on the way back. A lot of planning went into that trip. I'm not sure it was worth it.
A man we met in a fringe queue, who said he was a theatre director in Dublin, called it the best piece of theatre he'd ever seen. We beg to differ. Undoubtedly spectacular, it was also ridiculously overblown, shed little light on the Faust legend and was very noisy.
It was staged in a vast hangar, directed by the Romanian Silviu Purcarete, which meant you seemed to be miles away from the action even when the set split in half and we all trooped through and round it for a traverse staging of Walpurgisnacht. Poorly translated subtitles didn't help, though the rain on the roof and the sounds of seagulls and of aircraft taking off overhead added to the atmosphere.
The Mephistopheles was the best thing in it: an actress with an extraordinary voice, who spent much of the time naked or partially so, twisting her body into shapes, effortlessly dominating Faust, an elderly and deeply unsympathetic cove.
This is Charlie Spencer's review in The Telegraph. I agree with every word: