BORN WITH TEETH
Currently playing across the US
An aging authoritarian ruler, a violent police state and a restless, polarized people seething with paranoia: It’s a dangerous time for poets. Two of them — the great Kit Marlowe and the up-and-comer William Shakespeare — meet in the back room of a pub to collaborate on a history play cycle, navigate the perils of art under a totalitarian regime and flirt like young men with everything to lose. One of them may well be the death of the other.
“Amendt renders a savagely beautiful performance and his Kit blazes in like a light in the firmament.”
“His performance as Marlowe is sassy, sexy, and at times emotionally raw. wisely those moments when we see into Marlowe’s heart are kept to a minimum and are fleeting. Kit is outrageous, purposely shocking and it is his very nature to keep his true feeling guarded. Those flashes of genuine feeling are felt all the more keenly due to their rarity.”
-The Stages of MN
“A Tudor rock god.”
“The play is above all a showcase for a couple of heroic performances by Matthew Amendt, as Kit, and Dylan Godwin, as Will. They’re onstage for every moment of the production, thrusting and parrying, seducing and repelling, and even, on occasion, writing. This is daunting piece of work, intellectually and emotionally, and Amendt and Godwin ace it.”
Winner: Matthew Amendt as Kit Marlowe and Dylan Godwin as Will Shakespeare in Born With Teeth (Alley Theatre)
After seeing Matthew Amendt and Dylan Godwin on stage as Kit Marlowe and Will Shakespeare in Liz Duffy Adams’ Born With Teeth, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in those roles.
The young Shakespeare has just arrived in London and he is trying so hard to stay focused, to write and in the process make a name for himself and provide financially for his family. Marlowe, famous for his play Tamburlaine, is farther along in his career, more full of himself, and as we come to find out, playing a dangerous political game on the side. Is he dedicated to a cause or just bored and inclined to dabble?
The two have come together to collaborate on some of the Henry VI plays, a not uncommon practice of the time. Initially Marlowe dismisses Shakespeare and his attempts at flattery, but is intrigued by him as well.
Although they are almost exactly the same age, Shakespeare is in awe of Marlowe and the success he has already achieved, but he grows wiser about his fellow writer– certainly when Marlowe tries to entangle him in his own political machinations by threatening Shakespeare’s life in a very serious manner.
As for Shakespeare, he may not be as flashy about it, but he too thinks well of himself. Adding to the political dangers (in the Elizabethan Age people were killed for perceived disloyalty to the throne) and the writing one-upsmanship, the two men are sexually attracted to each other. It’s a lot to portray in 84 minutes.
Amendt, a visiting actor, commands the stage from the moment he strides onto it. In turns dismissive, charismatic and absolutely chilling as he seeks to manipulate Shakespeare into doing what he wants, he makes us believe in a celebrated writer trapped by his own betrayals and poor judgment who at the same time makes his spider’s web of deceit look almost attractive. And there again, there is that incredible writing talent.
It falls to Alley Theatre Resident Company member Godwin to deliver a nuanced performance as a young Shakespeare determined to make his way in the world. Godwin, often cast in some of the Alley’s zanier roles, delivers his best performance to date and makes us believe the yet-to-be-famous writer who is not as soft as he first appears with a sense of self that reveals an iron core. This is no meek country boy easily led astray but someone who can concoct his own schemes and surprises.
Word of mouth on these two actors was overwhelmingly positive, making true believers of almost everyone who saw the show. Yes, the play as written is most impressive. But adding these two actors to the mix lifted it to the next level and made it the kind of theater you have to see. An event. A chance to see two memorable actors at the height of their powers. A chance to say, you were there when it happened.”
-Houston Press Annual Theater Awards (also awarded Best New Play and Best Overall Production)
“But you may not notice that as much as you should, because you’re too busy being drawn in by Matthew Amendt’s Marlowe. Playwright Adams has created a character ideal for a scene-stealing tour de force, and Amendt seizes the opportunity in thrilling fashion throughout the play’s intermission-less 90 minutes.”
-St. Paul Pioneer Press
“Bearing the other half of the work load, Matthew Amendt gives a portrayal of Kit Marlowe that can only be described as electric. He brings a flamboyancy and charm to Kit that never feels like an act, he simply is Kit Marlowe. Amendt never shies away from the pain that Kit is constantly enduring, even if he uses comedy to mask the hurt. It is in these moments that Amendt shines most, his vulnerability is what proves to be his most enduring quality.
Both men live within their characters so deeply, while trying not be caught in the crosshairs of a totalitarian government that would simply love to eradicate anyone who contradicts what they believe, while trying to create a meaningful friendship between themselves. It is through these interactions, that the audience begins to see the unraveling of their world and we can't help but feel for each of them individually and as a collective unit as it becomes more and more clear that they may not be destined for a happy ending.”
“There they are, both of them–and they are exactly as I imagined them to be. Kit Marlow, sexy swagger, confident, gregarious, quick-witted, blunt as an anvil; Will Shakespeare, serious, guarded, cautiously articulate, lithe but restrained. Both are ambitious, handsome, and smart as hell….Amendt and Goodwin know their characters well, this being their second run in two years, and they play off one another with mastery.”
“Marlowe, played with incredible verve and intensity by Matthew Amendt, struts the stage like one of his own haughty, promethean characters… Marlowe threatens, tempts, and rages. “You’re the storm, the wildfire,” Shakespeare says.”
“Under the able direction of Rob Melrose, Amendt and Godwin build, destroy, and build again the tense arena of their friendship and collaboration that like a Jenga tower constantly verges on collapse.”
“A familiar name and face from the first decade of this century, Matthew Amendt returns to the Guthrie stage after a ten-year absence. A graduate of the U of M/Guthrie BFA program's inaugural class, he has developed into a powerful actor. As the haughty Marlowe, he deliciously spits out insults with a uniquely entertaining delivery, and then plumbs the depths of emotion as Marlowe grapples with his demons. It's a raw yet polished, strong yet vulnerable, wholly beautiful performance.”
-Cherry and Spoon
Produced by the Alley Theater under the direction of Rob Melrose, BORN WITH TEETH is an acclaimed world premiere production available for booking worldwide.