LIVE REVIEW: 'That Which feeds me'
@ The WInston theatre
“That Which Feeds Me” is not a historical drama. Nor does it try to be. Instead, it is a spectacular hour-long depiction of one of the coolest and anti-establishment writers of the Elizabethan era.
Written by Eden J. Peppercorn, “That Which Feeds Me” depicts the life of Christopher Marlowe, famed playwright and contemporary of William Shakespeare. Peppercorn aptly provides a clear balance between Marlowe’s creative genius and turbulent lifestyle, as well as the religious tensions that pervaded the 16th century.
The first scene sees the traditional portrait attributed to Christopher Marlowe torn from the rafters, and out swaggers Marlowe, rough and coarse, swearing at his mates and starting brawls in pubs. Amaan Khalid is astounding as Kit Marlowe, strutting across the stage and capturing the audience’s attention. He perfectly embodies the passion and arrogance of the playwright, swaying elegantly between the cocky, lustful maverick and the tortured artist – he is a delight to watch. Khalid is backed in turn by memorable supporting roles such as Seb Gillmore as the ridiculously haughty Elizabeth I, and Joe Davidson who portrays Marlowe’s lover, Thomas Walsingham, with delicacy.
I really loved how the audience were privy to Marlowe’s thoughts, whether he was deliberating on lines from his plays, or telling us to “get our minds out the gutter”. Marlowe and Shakespeare’s drunken exchange was particularly amusing – perhaps it’s unusual to consider that, during his lifetime, Marlowe was just as widely acclaimed as Shakespeare, if not more so. Moreover, the tensions surrounding Marlowe’s religious beliefs – he was accused of being a heretic – are played out with conversations between Marlowe and several characters, indicating his growing curiosity, which eventually culminates with his downfall.
The play was not without its weaknesses, however. At times the dialogue felt stilted, with awkward pauses and lines being rushed through. Yet, this seemed simply a case of first night nerves, which is perfectly understandable and redeemable. Furthermore, the signalling of time through ripping sheets of paper, although innovative, was at times distracting, especially as the chorus would announce the change in setting throughout the play. However, credit goes to the band, who expertly played a host of tracks that perfectly embodied the rock n’ roll lifestyle that Marlowe seemed to lead.
Ultimately, “That Which Feeds Me” is a fun play. It doesn’t claim to be the most historically accurate, but is instead exciting and dangerous, much like Marlowe himself.
Photo courtesy of Bristol Spotlights.