|Molly McKasson, Barton Heyman.|
A confused and "inexcusable” (Edith Oliver) piece of patchwork dramaturgy that pasted scraps of various writers’ treatments of the Faust legend together into a theatrical mulligan stew of little rhyme or reason. Plays by Goethe, Marlowe, Mountfort, Heine, Klinger and Valery were the prime ingredients. “Hyperactive direction” and a “wearisome and unreflective” production, as Mel Gussow phrased it, were partly responsible for this “rock bottom” outing.
Gussow observed that “‘Phantasmagoria Historia’ manages to work in a clown sideshow (a red‐wigged circus clown, a Columbine who resembles Harpo Marx, and a baggy‐pants old Harlequin), much writhing‐in‐tandem, God in an echo chamber, flashing lights, and random songs including a guitar ballad and ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’ tooted on a toy trumpet.”
Barton Heyman played Mephistopheles and Jack Hollander took on Faust. Gussow remarked, “Heyman's Mephistopheles is overbearing and fey—of the raised eyebrow school. Hollander's Faust is smug—like a burgomeister delivering a barroom harangue.”
John Simon considered the play “the lowest to which theatre can sink.” Among those going down with the ship on its one performance voyage were, of all people, Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman.