Christine Weems adeptly directs the clunky narrative, keeping the taught, tense aspects of the story at the forefront as much as possible. Through the middle portion of the show, the play drags its feet, getting muddled in the convolutions of the murder plot. I posit that this more fault of playwright, Charles Marowitz, than director, Christine Weems. For instance, the character of William Shakespeare leaves the stage around scene six and does not make a return until about scene fourteen, near the play's close. Lines are thrown in upon his return, like Emilia saying "If you do this-attempt to do this-your own life will be cut off," to ensure the audience understands that despite his absence from the stage that he is truly complicit in the confused murder plot.
Scott McWhiter's Christopher Marlowe is well played and vastly intriguing. As a hedonistic drunkard, the audience feels no real sympathy for him or his untimely demise. As the plot unravels, the audience witnesses his duplicity, sexual tastes in young boys, and reckless abandon of his mistress/lover Emilia Lanier.
As William Shakespeare, J. Cameron Cooper portrays an unlikable man made ill by ambition. He ignores his familial obligations and his wife, Anne Hathaway. After he is told that he needs to include more sex and violence in his plays to be a success, he begins to plot the death of Christopher Marlowe. The largest fault in Charles Marowitz's writing is that neither of his main characters is likeable, leaving no one for the audience to emotionally connect with.
Melissa McEver Huckabay's Anne Hathaway and Haley E. R. Cooper's Emilia Lanier work as compliments to each other. Emilia Lanier is fully sexualized and uses sex to get what she wants from both Marlowe and Shakespeare while Anne Hathaway is more-or-less unsexed in everyway imaginable. Anne Hathaway is so removed from sex that she is not even sexually frustrated and instead becomes a shrew with Lady Macbeth's manipulative skills.
As the conspirators that physically murder Marlowe, Anthony Torres' Ingram Frizer and L. RoBert Westeem's Henry Maunder are wholly underdeveloped by the playwright. Both men breathe as much life as they can into their stilted and flat characters, at least allowing the audience glimpses into a semblance of humanity through Maunder's imposing behaviors, especially when he tortures Philip Henslow for information, and Frizer's distaste for Marlowe's sexual advances.
Sam Martinez as Robert Poley and Scott Holmes as Philip Henslow, like Frizer and Maunder, are as interesting as the script allows. These characters are flat and serve the function to only move plot forward.
Costuming, designed by Deborah Blake and the cast, uses a fantastic mix of Elizabethan/Renaissance and modern styles to create an interesting look that is evocative of time. The blending of periods is pleasing to the eye and does not detract in any way from the show itself.