Marcus Youssef, Anthony F. Ingram. Photo by Emily Cooper

Wittenberg, Germany. A twisty world in which Hamlet, Dr. Faustus, and Martin Luther walk into a bar, share theological and philosophical differences over a few drinks, and try to figure out who holds all the answers. And that’s just a fraction of the story.

Martin Luther (Marcus Youssef) teaches The Principles of Christian Theology, aka “how to recognize the voice of God”. Dr. Faustus (Anthony Ingram), also a teacher at university, has a 180 approach to his Philosophy of Philosophy course. Caught in the middle of the triangle is young Hamlet (Mack Gordon), in his fourth year and yet without a major.

Anthony F. Ingram, Mack Gordon, Marcus Youssef. Photo by Emily Cooper
[Anthony F. Ingram, Mack Gordon, Marcus Youssef]

While Dr. Faustus always seems to have a cure for his patients, Martin Luther is challenged by his own religious beliefs. What follows is a fun spell of metaphor-slinging dialogue, occasional humour, and a sprinkling of unrequited love (between Faustus and The Eternal Feminine, a small role performed by Shauna Johannesen).

The bottom line is, the principles of both religion and philosophy share common ground. These two themes strongly intertwine throughout the just under two hour (with a 15 minute intermission) performance.

“Save your soul, Doctor” – Martin Luther

“Free your mind, Luther” – Dr. Faustus

The big question, “What if it isn’t true?” is answered by posing another: “Because if it isn’t, what are you living for?”

Wittenberg is an unlikely mashup of stories, theories, characters and historical events waiting to unfold. According to Ron Reed, Pacific Theatre’s Artistic and Executive Director, “stories collide with stories, characters wander in and out of each other’s histories.”

With two and a half days to prepare for this stage reading, the cast does a marvelous job of enacting what could be a terrific and thoughtful final performance, with proper staging and costumes. I also found that the two older cast members excelled in this production. Wittenberg continues through November 10 at the Pacific Theatre.

Photos by Emily Cooper.

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