As long as there are people on this Earth, we will forever be asking questions about William Shakespeare. So many schools of thought as to who he (she? they?) was, their sexuality, the in depth reading between the lines of their work.
Matchmaker Theatre Productions take the unwritten, from the point of view of Shakespeare supposed rival, Christopher Marlowe and unmasked another version of Shakespeare’s history.
A small company, we have the main performer who continues as Marlowe throughout, a ghostly figure who acts as the stage hand meet musical accompaniment and a character swapper who plays a student writing about Shakespeare vs Marlowe but also delves into other minor characters throughout. Of course, we also meet Shakespeare but to tell you more about them would ruin this really interesting approach to the story.
What’s great is that the company doesn’t shy away from LGBTQIA+ suggestions but also doesn’t make it such a big thing. We see Marlowe’s relationships but it’s just like any other and isn’t highlighted particularly as some revolutionary idea – which is exactly how it should be unless it is the main theme.
The changes of scene are shown between clicks of fingers and changes of lights, switching from situation to situation but also back to talk and review the news that has come to light with the student. This is a really interesting take and works very smoothly. Our ghostly figure, while in the background, is constantly “on” with facial expressions and interest in the scene – it really makes each scene well rounded.
For me, however, it felt like there was more to go with what they could achieve. This felt slightly in its infant stage and, while funny, professional and smooth, there is certainly some room for growth.
The Real Shakespeare… is an interesting approach to the age old questions about the playwright and their rival. However, there is great potential and it would be great to see where this company take it.