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The following is an imagined account from the life of Christopher Marlowe, a prolific English dramatist who wrote and published alongside William Shakespeare. He is best known for Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus, and he was thought to have collaborated with Shakespeare on his Henry VI plays. 


That Will Shakespeare’s a very promising young man. We were born within a couple of months of each other, and we’re both grammar school boys, but he’s been a bit of a slow starter, maybe because, unlike poor Robert Greene, and George Peele, and me, he didn’t go to university. I’ve seen him act in some of my plays at the Rose. I think he found The Jew of Malta rather too cynical – he’s romantic by nature, always inclined to see the best in people. He’s a decent actor and has a great sense of theatre, but I think his future lies more in writing plays, and even poems, than in acting. I was pleased to lend him a manuscript of my poem Hero and Leander, and shouldn’t be surprised if he were to try something in the same vein, especially now that the plague has closed the playhouses and he needs to find a new way of earning a living.

He has a good head for business, which could be a help when the playhouses open again. He’s become friendly with the Earl of Southampton, who may be able to give him a leg-up. I get on very well with Will, and we’ve talked about collaborating on a play about English history, but I must make sure he doesn’t get to know about the work I’m doing for the government. The theatre is a hotbed of gossip and I’m not always as careful as I should be about what I say about all manner of things – religion, the Queen, sex . . . I’ve always been inclined to live dangerously, but Will is more cautious – maybe because he has a wife and family back in Warwickshire. I like going to taverns – there’s a really good one in Deptford, I’m going there tomorrow - but he’s more of a stay-at-home. Well, everyone to his own taste.

Cast: Richard Hall, The Chapel Lane Theatre Company

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