The elusive Christopher Marlowe (Nicholas Thorne) is a character from history that intrigues us today, how did he die at age 29, was it a bar room brawl or was he murdered? Was Kit Marlowe the real author of the Bard’s plays? Many books have been written on this subject, and we are no closer to knowing if any of the theories are true.
Matchmaker Theatre Productions have put forward another theory, from the pen of Shaul Ezer. What if he was killed for being a playwright? The play examines Marlowe’s colourful character, building an image of a homosexual, atheist poet, playwright, and spy, living his life like his backside was on fire, running from one hairy situation to another.
Ezer brings in a character called Laura (Kirsty Eila McIntrye), who lives in the present day, who is writing a thesis on the impact of Shakespeare’s words on history. Marlowe press gang’s Laura into helping him to find out more about his demise and sets off on a journey of reminiscence on the part of Marlowe, but a journey of discovery for the audience.
As with Marlowe’s plays, his own life was dramatic, and his journey of discovery calls upon his fellow players to join in. John Kielty provides musical interludes with his guitar, and dons his Shakespearean costume, and Adam Buksh is convincing as, His Excellency Ahmed Bilqasim, whilst Laura (McIntyre) plays many roles. The performances and direction by Jen McGregor are excellent, and the gift of good writing has been used to good effect. Costume designer’s and maker’s Chantal Short and Martha Schram did an amazing job with the costumes and help with the authenticity of the period, but the ultimate applause must go to Nicholas Thorne who is a remarkable Kit Marlowe. His portrayal helps the story to leap from page to stage, this clever translator, playwright, inventor of blank verse, poet, spy; is a young man when many of these things happen to him, and his lust for life and intrigue, may well have contributed to sticky end.
If you have an interest in renaissance theatre, then this play should entice you to buy a ticket, there are many illusions to Shakespeare and the Elizabethan spy network of the period. Kit Marlowe’s life is still written about, and his plays still performed, and Matchmaker Theatre Productions have done a splendid job of delivering intrigue and some humour attached.
To see this play go to – https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/real-william-shakespeare-as-told-by-christopher-marlowe The Play runs until the 19th August.
Reviewer: Caroline Worswick
Reviewed: 5th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: