Dr. Faustus goes to hell, and J. Paul Boehmer’s portrayal of the title character in a 90-minute version of Christopher Marlowe’s tragical history is so deliciously smug and grandiloquently preening, it’s a pleasure to wave him goodbye as he sails downstream. This is certainly fun for the family, but it largely drains the tragedy of import for the sake of a well-executed execution — a romp down death row. Faustus sold his soul to Mephistopheles (Bernadette Sullivan, with a pleasing blend of world-weariness and fury) in order to master the cruel delights of black magic. A scholar bored with the knowledge he had, Faustus just wanted to entertain himself by taunting a pope and kissing Helen of Troy. The cost be damned. The cost damned him. As the daylight fades around the outdoor stage, the countdown to Faustus’ doom grows increasingly magnetic, but even his last-minute terror can’t mitigate, or provide much nuance to, a production that’s more of a revenge melodrama than a tragical history. Antony Sandoval’s bare-bones staging is a stylish, macabre affair (both Faustus and Mephistopheles come adorned with dark feline streaks of makeup extending from their eyes) replete with puppets and masks. The supporting ensemble has a weak link or two, but mostly fires off the prose with clearly enunciated eloquence and a physical agility as large as the surrounding panorama of the city. Particularly strong work by the corpulent Danny Campbell as narrator, Wagner.

Thursdays-Sundays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: July 31. Continues through Aug. 24, 2008

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