2006_05_arts_faust.jpgIn yesterday’s theater round-up, we noted the Stadttheater festival of new German theater at HERE Arts Center, but right now you can also see a staging of one of the most cherished works in classic German literature: Goethe’s Faust. For three years, Target Margin Theater Company has been working toward a full presentation of the 18th century masterpiece, newly translated by Douglas Langworthy, and on Sunday – probably not coincidentally, Walpurgisnacht, which, as those familiar with Faust know, is quite an important day for the story – the two-part, six-hour extravaganza opened.

The benefits of the long gestation period – made possible thanks to Target Margin’s and the cast’s remarkable dedication – are obvious in everything from pacing to costumes to sound; David Greenspan, who plays Mephistopheles, is phenomenal, Will Badgett and Ty Jones, as old and young Faust, and Eunice Wong, as Gretchen, nearly match the old devil’s intensity with their forceful portrayals, and the other cast members juggle so many disparate roles so gamely and with such aplomb that you can’t help but shake your head in amazement. If you’re not sure you have the stamina for six hours of theater (we weren’t sure we would, but there was enough of a break between the two halves for us to grab dinner), you can also see the show on separate nights, or even just see half of it – tickets are sold separately anyway. But Faust is so rarely staged in its entirety that it would be a shame to miss out this time, especially in these days of one-act, hour-long shows coming and going with scarcely a moment for development or reflection. If for nothing else, go for the numerous hilarious-scary orgy scenes – we hope Target Margin auctions off some of the “naked” suits when the production is over, because they could be fun to have on hand.

Classic Stage // 136 E. 13th St. // Through May 20, see website for details // Tickets via Ticket Central

Photo by Jill Jones.