The Real William Shakespeare… As Told by Christopher Marlowe

Aug 23 2023 | By More

★★★★☆    Full of imagination

Greenside @ Riddles Court (Venue 16): Fri 4 – Sat 19
Review by Suzanne O’Brien

There are many debates and conspiracy theories surrounding Shakespeare’s life and work. The Real William Shakespeare… as Told by Christopher Marlowe, from Matchmaker Theatre Productions, pitches into one of those thought-provoking theories with great humour, music and lively performances.

The English poet, playwright and translator Christopher Marlowe was a contemporary of Shakespeare, although his name may not be familiar to everyone. Shaul Ezer’s new 55-minute piece puts Marlowe, played charmingly by Nicholas Thorne, centre stage in ghost form.

Nicholas Thorne, Adam Buksh, Kirsty Eila McIntyre and John Kielty in The Real William Shakespeare… As Told By Christopher Marlowe. Pic: Peter Dibdin

Laura (Kirsty Eila McIntyre) is a student who is struggling to write her thesis on the works of Shakespeare. She is haunted by Marlowe’s ghost, who is desperate to tell her his story. After some persuasion Laura willingly listens and, with the aid of a ruff, a blanket, and a few small props, she takes on various roles in his story.

Through short scenes, they illustrate Marlowe’s journey from university to being recruited as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham to meeting the Moroccan diplomat Ahmed Bilqasim (Adam Buksh). Marlowe says Bilqasim asked him to translate his work from Arabic into English, claiming that these translations are the very plays that we now wrongly attribute to an Englishman named William Shakespeare.


It is certainly a theory. And in proposing it, the play successfully brings up many questions about authorship, translations and ownership, while also asking whether any of it really matters when talking about the work itself.

Kirsty Eila McIntyre in The Real William Shakespeare… As Told By Christopher Marlowe. Pic: Peter Dibdin

Live music is incorporated and brilliantly performed by sound designer John Kielty. Dressed in a stereotypical Shakespearean outfit designed by Chantal Short and constructed by Martha Schram, Kielty gives a stand out performance as the musician. He has little input in the actual action but his presence and engagement with the audience is hilarious. Just from his facial expressions and body language, his bitter and judgemental attitude towards the action cleverly comes through.

It is not necessary to have an understanding of the Elizabethan era, Christopher Marlowe, Ahmed (or Ahmad as he is sometimes known) Bilqasim or even Shakespeare for that matter. The script is easy to follow and expertly directed by Jen McGregor, with smooth scene transitions from 16th century Morocco to modern-day Scotland.

The Real William Shakespeare… as Told by Christopher Marlowe is a perfect example of how historical storytelling can be fun, creative and original.

Running time: 55 minutes (no interval)
Greenside @ Riddles Court (Thistle Theatre), 322 Lawnmarket EH1 2PG (Venue 16)
Friday 4 – Saturday 19 August 2023
Daily (not 13): 1.50pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Matchmaker Theatre Productions links

Twitter: @MatchmakerTP

Facebook: @matchmakertheatreproductions

Instagram @matchmakertp


John Kielty in The Real William Shakespeare… As Told By Christopher Marlowe. Pic: Peter Dibdin



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