After a year of being locked down and faced with the biggest struggle we've all faced in decades, there's only one thing that could cheer us all up... Satan. The Sorrows of Satan is a new musical play that reimagines the story of Faust. First seen at the Tristan Bates Theatre in 2017, it has now made the move online to continue the high quality virtual productions we have gotten used to and enjoyed over the past twelve months.
The team behind the recent virtual production The Fabulist Fox Sister, Luke Bateman and Michael Conley not only wrote this piece but also star in it in a case of life imitating art as both characters they play have a hand in writing the musical comedy... sorry, I mean musical play in the very meta production. The pair are reunited with that director Adam Lenson to create more theatre magic.
Where The Fabulist Fox Sister was a far more intimate affair, The Sorrows of Satan is much grander. The former's one man show grows to a cast of four (including accompaniment) while the previous run-down setting has been replaced with a ballroom at Brocket Hall - one of England's finest stately homes. The location adds an opulence to the affair as well as a sense of authenticity. All of the action takes space within the framing of the shot the piece opens with, giving it the feel of a stage.
Bateman plays Geoffrey Tempest - a down on his luck musical playwright who has one chance to prove himself. When he meets Prince Lucio Rimânez, wonderfully played by Conley, he has to decide how much he values his integrity and what he would give to be a success. The chemistry between Bateman and Conley is clear to see and what drives the piece forward. The devil is in the details and with clear foreshadowing and not much subtlety, it becomes obvious fairly early on who the Prince (I mean - the title was a dead giveaway) really is. Conley relishes the chance to play this role, giving us a mixture of sinister, charming and camp in a charismatic performance.
The pair are joined by the always fabulous Molly Lynch who shows brilliant versatility as "The Woman" - whichever version of it she is playing at the time. The sheer contrast in characters she plays in both Acts is a testament to not only the writing but also Lynch's characterisation. The cast is completed by Stefan Bednarczyk as the ever-present but always in the background Amiel, who has a standout moment when he gets to have the spotlight on him.
The show within a show metaphor has been done to death but The Sorrows of Satan has its tongue (Sorry Amiel) firmly in its cheek as it continues complicating the what is real and what isn't theme right up until the very last shot. No matter how predictable you might find it, it is never boring - there is always something going on to leave you mesmerised.
The music, while occasional, feels timeless with some absolute earworms hidden in its midst. Deliberately repetitive to begin with, this evolves to a more varied repertoire... though you may be irritated by a certain melody every time it rears its head. This is a play with music rather than a full on musical so don't expect the cast to burst into song spontaneously - every performance is carefully curated, ensuring it fits in to the show naturally - easily done with the show within a show theme.
A beautiful setting housing four incredibly talented performers makes The Sorrows of Satan an absolute joy to watch. Make sure you do whatever it takes to catch this while it is streaming - just try not to sell your soul.
The Sorrows of Satan is streaming until Sunday 9th May from thesorrowsofsatan.com