The School of Night Theatre Review - An Elizabethan Whodunit Comes to the Mark Taper

Gregory Wooddell as Kip Marlowe in "The School of Night"

Kip Marlowe ( Gregory Wooddell) is praying to his dog. Yes, his dog. Since he does not believe in God, his deity is the great Dog in the sky. Praying to a canine is the least of Kip Marlowe’s eccentricities. Christopher Kip Marlowe enjoyed the respect and friendship until these peculiarities begin to converge a social climate, which becomes more and more incendiary.

Gregory Wooddell & Tymberlee Chanell are scribe and actress in "The School of Night"

One of several artists in residence to patron Thomas Walsingham ( Adrian LaTourelle), Kip is preparing for the arrival of honored guest Sir Walter Ralegh ( Henri Lubatti). The residency is a double-edged sword. While he is grateful to have a place to be while the plague ravages London, Lady Audry Walsingham ( Alicia Roper) is a watchdog for the Queen; and the queen id opposed to everything Kip holds dear: sodomy, atheism and debauchery.

John Sloan as Tom Stone in "The School of Night"

 He is certain her spies are everywhere and he is especially suspicious of the young actor with the stage name of Tom Stone ( John Sloan), introduced to him by his friend and sometimes writing partner Thomas Kyd ( Michael Bakkensen). Once Tom reveals himself to actually be Will Shakespeare, the writer and actor fits in well into the circle of artists, thrusting Kip into the role of mentor to the young man. However it becomes clear very quickly that despite Shakespeare’s claims that he is the fan of Marlowe, his literary skills are Marlowe’s equal if not superior.

Henri Lubatti as Sir Walter Ralegh in "The School of Night"

                                                         The visit with Sir Walter Raleigh goes well, but the play is the thing that goes badly. The content of comedy that was once fuel and folly are now blasphemy against the queen; and Sir Walter Ralegh is not the Queen’s man. Unflappable and impertinent as ever, Kip publicly calls for the school of night to be reconvened, the secret society the men once create to pursuit the study of science, atheism and other things non-religious. But to not believe in a god is to not acknowledge the existence of God, equivalent to questioning the sovereignty of the Queen. And to question the Queen – even writing about it in a fictitious context - is treason. 

Hunting the Faithless

The others in Walsingham’s small court all see the impending danger and do their best to protect Kip from the tightening noose of censorship and oppression. Marlowe, however, does not seem to want to be saved. His obsession with truth to his art and to himself seem to put him on a collision course with his own destruction.

The cast of "The School of Night" now at the New Mark Taper Forum

The School of Night is being presented at the New Mark Taper Forum October 30, 2008 through December 17, 2008

New Mark Taper Forum
at the Music Center
(Downtown Los Angeles)
135 N. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Photo Credits: Craig Schwartz

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