New York | 2h 15m | Already closed

The Shakespeare Conspiracy

From 5 critic and 26 member reviews
Members say: Clever, Entertaining, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing

About the show

Murder, mayhem, and manhunts abound in this dramatic examination of the underbelly of London's Elizabethan theater, and the conspiracy surrounding the true authorship of the works of the Bard. More…

'The Shakespeare Conspiracy' spotlights two conspiracy theories that have fascinated historians for centuries: how could William Shakespeare become England's greatest playwright virtually overnight when he was just a nameless actor who had never written anything before? And how could Christopher Marlowe, known spy and the previous reigning playwright in England, be suspiciously murdered and quickly buried in an unmarked grave just days before he was to be tried for treason?

Part of the Fledgling Theatre Company and the Caravan Theatre Company's first annual 'Battle of the Bards' festival, honoring the work of Christopher Marlowe.

Theater Pizzazz

"The clever and most entertaining production reveals superb direction and adroit acting by the ensemble...The arc of Bacino’s and Cadigan’s play solidly develops this adventurous intrigue with rationality so there are few logical gaps...Almost apologetically described as a gay romp, the tone of the play is comedic. However, there is underlying depth and emotion...The actors are invested so the humor appears fluid and facile...I heartily recommend this production as a must-see." Full Review

Arts International

“With quite a few twists and turns and eventual murder/suicide the Conspiracy unfolds. It’s very much of a thriller and much better than Agatha Christie's murder mysteries...Throughly engrossing. The whole ensemble is wonderful...Karafin has done an enormously brilliant and superb job directing this very complicated and difficult play. He has created an atmosphere of darkness and shadows which are perfect for the mood of this play...A beautiful, sensitive and delicious accomplishment.” Full Review

Let's Go to the Theater

"An imaginative representation of this time period and the questions arising from it...The plot has more twists and turns that bring it to quite a surprising ending. Strong acting develops the characterization on stage which is so crucial to the story line. Under the direction of Karafin, suspense and downright scary moments at times develop the plot and makes it very believable...A superb production to see." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"For those who revel in historical deceptions, the play offers a fair share of intrigue and conspiratorial confirmation...While 'The Shakespeare Conspiracy' has a good deal of melodramatic twists and turns to hold one's interest for most of the two-hour running time, it is not likely to change the mind of people who believe that Shakespeare did indeed write Shakespeare's plays...The characters are too thinly drawn and the periodic plot holes quickly skirted to make a compelling case." Full Review


"This clunky though vigorously performed and presented fantasia posits one of the more arguably outlandish theories of Shakespearean authorship...A choppy series of overheated episodes and vignettes spanning 40 years...with plentiful and heavy-handed dialogue...Karafin has assembled a talented multiracial company who variously perform with classical and contemporary verve...Still, it all does get wearying over the course of two acts...It’s full of sound and fury signifying nothing." Full Review

Absorbing, Delightful, Entertaining, Masterful, Clever

See it if You want to learn about the Shakespeare conspiracy. I really enjoyed this show and the acting.

Don't see it if You don't like long shows. It's 2 hrs + intermission.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if You enjoy enjoy fictional period pieces of the past. Well done!!

Don't see it if You are offended by gay storylines.

Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy Shakespeare and wonder about the true identity of the author of his works.

Don't see it if you have no curiosity.

Clever, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if If you like conspiracies, fourth wall breaking, and Elizabethan English writing, this is the show for you!

Don't see it if Don't like this if you like historical accuracy, and don't like handsome gay men dealing with murder and love.

Clever, Funny, Entertaining, Raunchy

See it if if you are intrigued by the Shakespeare/Marlowe controversy.

Don't see it if you don't like seeing male affection on the stage or are not interested in the question of how could Shakespeare write those plays?

Also It's a well-acted all-male show with minimal sets. Bring a cushion--th... Read more Read less

Clever, Good acting, Entertaining, Conspiracy theory inconsistancies, Interesting staging

See it if you like a fun gay romp thru Shakespeare conspiracies; don't worry too much about inaccuracies; enjoy good acting & creative staging.

Don't see it if you're a Stratfordian & authorship conspiracies & literary/historical inaccuracies piss you off; if gay situations make you uncomfortable.

Also I confess. I'm a Shakespeare scholar. I totally don't believe anyone b... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You are interested in Shakespeare, conspiracies, famous figures who may have been gay, English history or handsome men in tights

Don't see it if You are a Shakespeare purist or fussy about staging

Preposterous, Enjoyable, Handsome, Repetitive, Clever

See it if you don’t care that a play plays fast & loose with literary history, just so long as it has fun doing it.

Don't see it if you are unable to set aside a preposterous, chronologically impossible conspiracy theory & just enjoy the amusing mayhem it permits.

Also I’ve spent decades reading & studying Shakespeare’s plays & experienci... Read more Read less

Entertaining, Funny, Enjoyable, Good acting

See it if The story is not bad, it's funny and enjoyable.

Don't see it if You have issues with same sex love, and friendship.

Also The cast was good, I was going to cancel my ticket base on other revie... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great writing, Refreshing

See it if You are a fan of the mystery behind the Bard and who really was Shakespeare. The show adds to genre with an intelligent and clever twist.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of the English Tudor Era and are a Shakespeare purest.

Clever, Delightful, Quirky

See it if The interesting concept about Shakespeare and his works is the star of this show. The execution, acting and directing needs some work/help.

Don't see it if This show should be edited especially the 15 - 20 minutes before the intermission get very repetitive. The play is rather clever overall.

Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging, Indulgent, Thought-provoking

See it if Like Shakespeare from a Gay perspective, language that's easily understood. No music.

Don't see it if Don't like Gay oriented plays. And does not include music.

Entertaining, Edgy, Bit cliched, Ok acting, Good book

See it if Shakespeare &/or Marlowe is your thing. Scenes are a bit rushed which hurts book-comprehension slightly. Some acting could be less cliched.

Don't see it if you don't know about the never-ending conspiracy theories or any of their work. You won't get most of the classic lines used as punchlines.

Also No debate: this is PRO-Marlowe.... Read more Read less

Clever, Enjoyable, Fun, Thought-provoking, Great ensemble

See it if Despite the period setting, you're up for a fey and at times almost campy modern take on Marlowe et al. A fun stab at revisionist history.

Don't see it if You're not up for a gay farce, regardless of a fine cast well directed in a difficult space or a problematic if well thought out script. Fun

Also Basino and Cadigan's script makes a convincing case for Marlowe as The... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Over-wrought, Over-ambitious, Great staging, Amusing

See it if You’re a fan of Shakespeare and open to alternative theories about his identity.

Don't see it if You don’t like tiny productions, don’t care about Shakespeare, or don’t enjoy far-fetched conspiracy theories.

Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Funny, Quirky

See it if You're a fan of Marlowe, Shakespeare, conspiracies, or some combination thereof

Don't see it if You aren't a fan of small spaces with wooden chairs or are afraid of catching the Black Plague

Clever, Romantic, Relevant, Intense, Great staging

See it if You appreciate art that recovers queer history, explores complexities of intimacy between men, exposes inhumanity of ideological oppression

Don't see it if You are overly sensitive about challenging the predominant narrative of Shakespearean authorship.

Clever, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Must see

See it if You like a great plot executed by talented, passionate actors. Also if you like conspiracy and appreciate good direction.

Don't see it if If you are a huge supporter of William Shakespeare and/or do not want to see men in romantic scenes.

During previews
Great acting, Great writing, Clever

See it if Was Shakespeare written by Kit Marlowe? This play says “Yes”, but scholars say “No”.

Don't see it if You can’t sit on an unpadded chair. You aren’t interested in fringe theories.

During previews
Conspiracy theorizing, Oxfordians vs stratfordians vs marloweians?, Some good acting, Could it be cut?, Thought-provoking

See it if desire Oxford/Stratford drama 2 be rehashed, entertained by detective work, and look 4 men of color 2 be classically featured on stage

Don't see it if no interest in Shakespeare didn't write it trauma, or period drama, overemphasis on gay aspects, or shoestring production values say no 2 U

During previews
Marlowe imagined as the real shakespeare in gay-centric costume drama

See it if you want the Marlowe theory fleshed out. Somewhat amateurish in writing and direction. Mateo D'Amato is a very gay and seductive Marlowe.

Don't see it if can be repetitive and slow. Shakespeare is portrayed as a dolt. The Thomas Walsingham character is fiction, but I liked the Edward W.

Also "The English Channel" by Robert Brustein, 10 years ago at Abingdon wit... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Intelligent, Confusing, Slow

See it if Clever premise, promising actors, but a bit sloppy. Characters lacked motivation, switched beliefs, had memory lapses, and lines were miffed

Don't see it if If the Elizabethan era is not your thing, you may lose interest. And if you insist on believability, you're in for a tough ride.

During previews
Clever, Great acting, Disappointing

See it if Are interested in the Bard and conspiacry theories

Don't see it if You dont want gay characters making out in front of you, it was unnecessary to the plot

During previews
Ambitious, Slow, Good idea, weak execution, Creative

See it if you want an intriguing tale of Marlowe writing Shakespeare's works. Creative idea, but weakly realized: long, slow. Decent acting.

Don't see it if you hope for energy behind thoughtful concept. Direction felt forced/contrived - making production feel tedious despite flashes of talent.

During previews
Banal, Excruciating, Insipid, Awkward, Interesting premise

See it if you want to explore the (#fakenews) conspiracy theory about the origin of WS's works; you'd enjoy an Elizabethan gay soap opera.

Don't see it if you respect Shakespeare, Marlowe (both come off rather buffoonish here) or ur time. Note: The wood folding chairs only add to the discomfort

Also I understand the inclination by those involved in this production to "... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (17)