Did Shakespeare Do It? Production Delves into the Murder of Playwright Christopher Marlowe

Article excerpt

Byline: Emily Krone


Could William Shakespeare, like a character out of one of his own tragedies, have committed murder?

The Janus Theatre Company explores the possibility in "Murdering Marlowe," which opens Friday.

The play, by Charles Marowitz, is a thriller that takes the real-life and suspicious death of Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe and gives it a "new twist."

Legend has it that Marlowe, the pre-eminent playwright and "superstar" of his time, was killed during a tavern brawl - over the tab - at age 29, in 1593. Shakespeare, then an obscure, struggling artist living in Marlowe's shadow, ascended to prominence soon after his rival's mysterious death.

Those are the historical facts. The other details, including who killed Marlowe, remain murky. The play fills in some of the historical holes, creating a fictional reworking in which Shakespeare might - or might not - have plotted Marlowe's demise.

"It's exciting; it's told from the standpoint of very interesting people," said producing director Sean Hargadon.

The production marks the Chicago-area premiere of "Murdering Marlowe."

Since moving to its new digs at the Elgin Art Showcase, the Janus Theatre Company has endeavored to showcase new work and bring new material to the area, Hargadon said.

"We're trying to expand the theatrical landscape," Hargadon added.

The play works on two levels: as a historical piece and as a fast-paced thriller, Hargadon said. …