Of Conspiracy!

New Comedy Premieres at Mainline Theater

Conspiracy poster Courtesy Chocolate Moose Theatre

Christopher Marlowe is the subject of Montreal-­based actor Martin Law’s new play, Conspiracy! which explores the theories behind the playwright’s death in a comic twist through the eyes of fictional characters.

The Chocolate Moose Theatre Company is premiering their new comedy, written and co-­directed by Law at the Mainline Theatre from Jan. 21 to 24.

The play takes us back to the time of the mysterious events of Marlowe’s death in 1593. According to the conspiracy, Shakespeare and Marlowe could have been the same person.

The story goes like this: Marlowe’s death would have been faked to prevent him from being imprisoned on the grounds of his rumoured atheism. After his false demise, he would continue to write for the theatre, and the name “Shakespeare” would have been used merely as a pen name to protect Marlowe’s reputation.

It is thus implied that Shakespeare never existed, and all of The Bard’s plays were actually the inventions of Marlowe himself while he was concealing his true identity. Sounds plausible, right?

An actor and former McGill student, Law was introduced to these theories by a friend and fellow McGill alumni Stuart Wright.

While the documentation about the playwrights at the time is underwhelming, Law stresses he is still not convinced.

“Stuart and I have had loads of debates about these conspiracies and the truth is, there really are no good grounds to back them up,” he said.

In 2014, he performed in two plays: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, a modern play by Tom Stoppard that tells the story of Hamlet through the experiences of his best friends, and Doctor Faustus, Marlowe’s classic piece.

That’s when Law began writing his own imaginative interpretation of the controversial events surrounding Marlowe’s death.

The result is Conspiracy!, a dark comedy about Richard and Jane Bull, the ones given the task of faking Christopher Marlowe’s death.

Law studied as many contemporaneous documents he could get his hands on. He contemplated whether to revolve his story around the real historical figure Eleanor Bull, who has long been linked to the legend of Marlowe’s questionable end.

She owned the building where the playwright’s widely believed death, allegedly caused by a drunken brawl, occurred. However, Law figured that fictional personalities may offer different insight and add a more entertaining element to the final product.

And thus, his decision gave birth to the comedy’s main characters, Richard and Jane.

While it deals with mysterious and sometimes sombre ideas, the overall approach to the story is mainly one of satire and skepticism.

“It is a farcical play that spoofs modern mentality and the conspiracy culture we sometimes live in,” Law said.

The play holds a mirror to a society where obsession and paranoia can become the platform for controversial personalities such as conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

It explores the lighthearted examination of the fundamental flaws of such extremism.

Upon receiving his history degree, Law founded the Chocolate Moose Theatre Company, with the goal of creating and producing affordable accessible quality theatre in the city.

Julie Santini and Fiona Ross, who produced and designed costumes and sets for the play respectively, joined him.

Law co-­directed the play with another McGill alumni, Hannah Kirby. Conspiracy! is his biggest production yet, having previously written small theatrical pieces for the Fringe Festival.

It is the Chocolate Moose Theatre Company’s eighth play so far.

How should audiences receive his play? “With laughter, I hope!” Law said. “I think people will have fun with the mystery and hopefully enjoy the darkness and absurdity of it all.”