There are critics whose job it is to critique and then there are theater fans who come because they enjoy the theater. Rorschach has its own set of fans and two of them have been very supportive with their praise and their attendance. They sent this email out to their friends and I think that it provides another point of view, besides the one provided by The Post and DC Theatre Scene. In short they loved it, but I will let Louis and Alan speak for themselves.
We saw a truly outstanding play tonight -- the theme of a young talented naive man trying to find his true calling in a chaotic world is relevant today. (It is definitely as gripping as the last four shows we saw this month.)
The show begins with an opening obscenity (which is not gratuitous) delivered by Thomas Walsingham (Matt Dunphy) (who has the funniest almost-campy lines in the beginning) and who is Christopher (Kit) Marlowe's would-be sometime lover, followed by a naked Kit Marlowe (Adam Jonas Segaller) (also not gratuitous) swinging on ropes -- and then much sword-fighting, bloody cruelty, political intrigue.
The playwright - David Grimm - based the play on assorted half-truths regarding the mysterious life of the talented, thrill-seeking Marlowe who it seems was a spy for the British government (or at least for some mysterious element of Elizabeth's regime headed by Sir Francis - a true devil), an admirer of the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh's (just back from Virginia with the 'potato') and an unapologetic lover of men and teenage boys, and Marlowe's tragic death at 29. Marlowe's three conflicted relationships move the action: with Thomas Walsingham, with Sir Francis (the devil) and with Sir Walter Raleigh.
Scenes with Marlowe and Raleigh are particularly moving as they see each other as father and son and both admire and disappoint each other. Raleigh to Marlowe: 'For all the iambs in the world of your pentameter, you cannot say, 'I am,' '' How does he reconcile his attractions to these three figures, and what do they represent inside of him. Michael Kahn asked Rorschach to produce a play on Marlowe as an accompaniment to Shakespeare's theater's Marlowe plays and "Kit Marlowe" offers much insight into "Tamburlaine'' (which seems to have been written with Raleigh - his hero at the time -- in mind).
If you plan on seeing Tamburlaine, definitely see this show. The play reminded me of the 17th century English life portrayed in "Will in the World" -- the conflict between Protestants and Catholics, the filth in the city, the casual acceptance of brutality, the hypocrisy of the landed gentry, and the power struggles involved in marriage contracts and daily life. Great material for Shakespeare and Marlowe - but makes you long for the rule of law, truthfulness in public discourse and tolerance and generosity of spirit. (That is, Kit Marlowe has universal relevance.)
The acting by all eleven male actors is superb -- the small space and the simple, rough set adds to the intensity -- excellent drama (with enough humor to take the edge off). This town has so much talent on stage. This play is very rewarding and a good reason for those in Maryland and Virginia to stay in the city during the week or come in on a weekend. You only have until December 2.
Louis and Alan
If you want to share your opinions about Kit Marlowe, leave a comment or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. We need the feedback of our audiences more than the critics, because you are who we are creating these shows for.