Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

Marlowe’s ghost
The ART pays homage to Dido, Queen of Carthage

Although Carthaginian queen Dido and Trojan hero Aeneas have been immortalized in operas by Purcell and Berlioz, Christopher Marlowe’s 1585 play Dido, Queen of Carthage is so little known that it’s omitted from Marlowe’s entry in The Oxford Companion to the Theatre. So why did Neil Bartlett, the renowned British adapter, translator, and director currently in residence at the American Repertory Theatre to stage its production, choose this play for his local debut?

Bartlett, who has owned a copy of Marlowe’s complete plays since his teenage years in Chichester, explains, "I’ve never directed a Marlowe play before. I don’t know if there’s ever been a production of this one in the United States. I never know why I choose the next play; it chooses me."

Mindful of how a specific theater, in this case the Loeb Drama Center, shapes the drama unfolding within its walls, the director continues, "I thought Marlowe’s Dido would be the right story for this space. It needs big stories and big words to fill this house. There’s something about the epic story of this piece, about immense passions, a geographical sweep. People are endlessly looking back to the Trojan War or looking ahead to the founding of the Roman Empire. I was interested by the challenge of the counterpoint between this text, which is extremely sexual and passionate, and that great big, rather bleak stage."

The tale of Dido and Aeneas takes place after the Trojan War has ended. Aeneas is wandering the seas in search of a new home and dreaming of a country named Italy. Shipwrecked by a storm, he lands on a beach near Carthage, which is ruled by Dido. Enter Juno, Jupiter, Venus, and Cupid, who peevishly determine the course of the mortals’ affair. Bartlett’s Cupid is Obie- and Bessie-winning performance artist John Kelly, who happens to be spending the year in residence at the Radcliffe Institute. A trained singer, Kelly will perform two arias in the play: Bartlett culled the texts from other Marlowe works and music director Laura Jeppesen set them to music by the 17th-century composer William Lawes. "Cupid is on stage the entire evening," says Bartlett. "He’s a very complex presence. At certain times, he does exactly what you’d expect little Cupid to do: he darts around with his wings, plays naughty, and acts quite charming. At other times, he transforms into a terrible creature, quite animal, very cruel, completely heartless. He has no human emotions at all. His only motives seem to be curiosity, cruelty, and pleasure."

Kelly will be dressed in a gold loincloth with wings that look, he says, as if they’d been "cut from the backbone of a bird." The actor describes his character as "profoundly trashy. He’s all the clichés, but he’s also menacing, mercurial. I’m summoning the hard and the soft, the dark and the light, the male and the female. The audience likes to know what’s going on. I feel I need to thwart them, to surprise them with the velocity, the detachment of this creature who wreaks havoc with people’s lives."

Bartlett, who is also an actor and a novelist with four books to his credit, has cast the other characters with a certain disregard for gender. He says, "No director ever sat in a rehearsal room and said, ‘Right, we really need to be shocking; we really want to piss people off.’ But I am known to be a gay artist; I’m known to be a troublemaker. All we want to do is tell the story, whatever it takes. I don’t think anyone should go and see a Marlowe play and come out saying, ‘Oh, that was nice.’ So long as people are not bored."

Dido, Queen of Carthage is presented by the American Repertory Theatre March 5 through 26 at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street in Harvard Square. Tickets are $12 to $72; call (617) 547-8300, or visit www.amrep.org

Issue Date: February 25 - March 3, 2005
Back to the Editor's Picks table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group