The Killing by Michael Butt

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BBC Radio 4, 17 August 2010
Michael Butt's play was a factionalized account of the death of Christopher Marlowe in May 1593. The play started as an Elizabethan detective story involving the Narrator (Paul Rhys) trying to find out exactly what happened, and becoming involved in a complicated web of intrigue involving con-persons, ladies of the night, agents and two members of the court - Thomas Walsingham (Blake Ritson) and Lord Cecil (Tim McMullan). It transpired that Marlowe had been hired by Walsingham as an agent sent to Scotland to establish contact with King James VI, who would later become James I of England. However Marlowe was a marked man, having ruffled many establishment feathers on account of his atheism and his homosexuality. He was a mercenary, willing to sell favours - whether financial or sexual - to the highest bidder.
However the detective story framework took an interesting twist when it was revealed that the narrator was actually Marlowe himself; he not only told the story but made it seem as if his death could have been suicide. Perhaps he did not want to live any more in a high-risk environment where he knew that his life was in perpetual danger. Or maybe he really was the victim of a plot instigated by Walsingham.
The Killing was a compelling piece of wortk, not least for its account of a corrupt Elizabethan world in which dog ate dog. Elizabeth, the so-called 'Virgin Queen,' might have reigned supreme for many years, but there was no shortage of wolves willing to snap at her heels, destroying everyone in their wake, in pursuit of power and influence. The director was Sasha Yevtushenko.

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