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History Play

B

If Shakespeare in Love had been a book penned by a precocious academic with a fondness for footnotes, it could’ve easily resembled History Play, an audacious work of scholarship, both factual and puckishly forged. Play takes the oft-argued theory that Elizabethan playwright Christopher ”Kit” Marlowe was the true pen behind at least some of the Bard’s works and transforms it into a sweeping mock biography. In bookish prose thick with detail, Bolt finds King Lear in possible childhood trips to Dover and Richard III in guilt over Kit’s putative work as a spy for the crown — all under the thesis that cloak-and-dagger intrigue drove Kit at 29 to fake his own death and write as Shakespeare from exile in Europe. It’s all in good fun, but odd to imagine the Bard as less a poet than a brilliantly constructed idea.

History Play
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