Theater: Old Play in Manhattan

Faust, Part I (by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe), though one of the world's supreme classics, seldom reaches the New York stage; Hamburg's Deutsches Shauspielhaus production, done in German at the City Center, is the first in 32 years.

There is reason enough for this: Faust, in one way when done in German, in another in English, poses a language barrier not easily breached.* For non-Germans, again, even the playable but overlong first half creates theatrical problems not easily solved. No one word or phrase—dramatic poem, epic drama—adequately characterizes a work that, teeming with...

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