Peter B Hodges’ Off-Broadway hit Marlowe’s Fate, based on the premise that Christopher Marlowe wrote the canon credited to William Shakespeare, gets its UK premiere tonight (5 November 2021) at London’s White Bear Theatre, where its limited season continues until 27 November. Time to get booking!
The run includes a post-show Q&A with Peter Hodges and the company, chaired by MyTheatreMates founder Terri Paddock, on Thursday 11 November.
Everyone knows that Christopher Marlowe, poet, playwright and spy, was stabbed in a tavern brawl in Deptford and died in May 1593 – but what if he didn’t?
This witty literary mystery implicates Queen Elizabeth’s spymasters in a disappearance. This might have been the end of the story, but Marlowe continued to write and needed an alias. In Richard Field’s printshop Shaxper (aka Shakespeare) arrives looking for work and the plot thickens.
On the Night of Errors, the spymasters attempt to switch Shaxper for Marlowe, but the plan fails and Marlowe escapes again leaving Shaxper exposed.
In Marlowe’s Fate, the writers’ rivalry, which raged over centuries, is presented as a sparring match performed by Penn O’Gara’s puppets and leading to the ultimate showdown. In the end, as the spymasters discover, only Shaxper knows the truth.
Marlowe’s Fate ran Off-Broadway in 2018 at Theatre Row Studios. The UK premiere pits Nicholas Limm as Marlowe against Lewis Allcock as Shaxpear, along with Susan Brooke (as Mrs Bull/Jaqueline Field), Gary Dunnington (Field/Skeres/Ben Johnson), Zoë Lambrakis (Audrey/ Judith), PK Taylor (Frizer/Drayton) and Robert Vernon (Poley).
The production is directed by the author, with puppet and costume design by Penn O’Gara, set design by Reuben Speed and lighting design by Harvey Nowak-Green. Stage Manager Alwyn Coffey. It’s presented by Caravan Theatre Company.
Do you know your Marlowe?
Christopher Marlowe (also known as Kit) was baptised in 1564 and died (maybe) in 1593 at the age of just 29. Prior to his mysterious demise, he was one of the most famous Elizabeth playwrights, as well as a poet and translator. His two-part epic Tamburlaine the Great (1587-88) was the first English play written in blank verse, which became the standard for the era and is considered by many scholars to be the start of the mature phase of Elizabethan drama.
Marlowe’s other known plays include The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus, Edward II and, his early work which was possibly co-written with Thomas Nashe, Dido, Queen of Carthage.
Conjecture over the means of Marlowe’s premature death has raged ever since it happened. An official coroner’s account only came to light in 1925 but, owing to the rampant rumours and poor documentation from the 16th century, the facts remain uncertain and the debate continues.
What the critics say
New York critics were intrigued and impressed by Peter B Hodges‘ dramatised version of events in Marlowe’s Fate.
“Marlowe’s Fate is an intriguing, surprisingly enjoyable exploration. And if you’re not careful, you may just find yourself questioning everything you thought you knew about Will Shakespeare” – Stage Buddy
“Marlowe’s Fate is a nifty, literate mystery” – Theater Pizzazz
“It’s theatre that forces you to listen and think” – Stage Buddy
“The stylised dialogue zips along with intensity and humour” – Theater Pizzazz
Marlowe’s Fate runs from 3 to 28 November 2021 at the White Bear Theatre, 138 Kennington Park Rd, London SE11 4DJ, with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.15pm. Tickets priced £16 (concessions £14). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!