By Maddy Raven, Second Year Theatre and Film
That Which Feeds Me is the kind of show where your only option is to dive in headfirst and immerse yourself in the world of the characters: in this case, the world of Christopher Marlowe, ‘proto-queer’ playwright, most famous for The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Dr Faustus.
Not much is known about Marlowe’s life. From what has been gathered, he lent his writing talent to other playwriting contemporaries, such as Shakespeare, which has led to speculation that he was behind more of the bard’s writing than just a few verses. He may have been a spy. And most prominently, the homoerotic themes in his writing have led to theories of his own sexuality. Writer Eden Peppercorn explores this in a self admittedly creative manner, bringing to life a Marlowe who is fuelled by his own nihilism, searching for intellectual fulfilment and a love of booze, brawling and sex (mainly with Thomas Walsingham).
Peppercorn’s writing is professional, shrewd and dryly funny. The composition of the music, led by Clare Packham and Fintan Kealy, also has hints of humour, underscoring the punk emphasis the play brings to Marlowe’s story (which has been admittedly written with some creative license).
Peppercorn’s writing is professional, shrewd and dryly funny
The lighting design also emphasises the ‘punkness’ of the show, and also draws comparison from a lot of the complex theological questions Marlowe considers throughout his life: a lot of the themes of Faustus are linked to his own life, and at one point, Walsingham observes that Marlowe doesn’t seem to realise that he is writing about himself. But That Which Feeds Me doesn’t just focus on Faustus: quotes are also drawn Hero and Leander, and nods are given to Tamberlaine. This show manages to tease out a convincing and vibrant story of a man so often shrouded in mystery.
Joe Davidson as Thomas Walsingham stands out as a fantastic supporting actor to Amaan Khalid’s Marlowe, acting as a down-to-earth influence to Marlowe’s nihilistic, self-destructive tendencies. The chorus are also impressive, throwing themselves into the imaginative choreography, though I would’ve liked for them to have been a little bit more in sync when they were speaking together. Speech was the only snag in the play which stood out: I went on the first night, so perhaps actors were speaking fast from the adrenaline of performing to an audience for the first time, so my advice would be to slow down and enjoy their time onstage, as it is an enjoyable play and they deserve to feel pride in their work.
I would also like to take a moment to say that the marketing of this show is some of the best I’ve seen in a long time – it’s more professional than shows I’ve seen going to the Edinburgh Fringe, and displays a lot of ambition, which I’m glad to see, because I think with some polishing, and some time, this show could go very far indeed.
Featured: Epigram /