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Faustus Interviews: Ray Fearon, Mephistopheles

Updated Monday, 10th September 2007

Making the devil his own? Ray Fearon explains his approach to playing Mephistopheles.

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Copyright The Open University

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How I would go about approaching a character like Mephistopheles, like Christopher Marlowe or Shakespeare or any classical text which is written in verse, the character is actually within the text itself. There are rules to verse in iambic that give you clues; the words Mephistopheles says are all sort of very long vowels which actually gives you the approach of somebody actually speaking a lot slower, so there’s actually a lot of weight behind this character.

It’s like say, for instance, a character Othello and Iago. Iago would have prose and his verse is very choppy, whereas someone like Othello is very long, the words, they’re very expanded words, and the vowels, they’re all long vowels as opposed to short vowels and once you have long vowels, it just gives you gravitas. That’s what I found with Mephistopheles, is that he has a lot of weight. He doesn’t like being what he is and I think that as he has to go out and retrieve souls, I think it reminds him of being a human being, or having the choice, you know, he doesn’t have a choice any more. Within the text, he says something about seeing the face of God, and if you’ve seen the face of God and to know that you will never see the face of God again, it must be damning, and it’s that thing that he’s laden with.

 

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