Marlowe meets Tarantino

Marlowe meets Tarantino
Just been re-reading ‘The Reckoning’ – Charles Nicholls’ brilliant account of the murder of Christopher Marlowe. (So titled since the playwright’s final reckoning came about when he was stabbed above the eye in an alleged bar brawl over ‘the recknyng’ – ie who was paying the bill).

What strikes you about the real story isn’t just Nicholls’ detective work and the verve of his delivery – it’s the weirdness of what actually seems to have happened. It’s stranger and more unlikely than any fiction.

Imagine that an auteur today with a reputation for bloody populist drama – say, Quentin Tarantino – was killed. And the official story is that he died in a fight, which he started, in a pub in Arlington, Virginia.

You’d think that was surprising, but possible – and credible, if the official coroner says so.

Then it turns out, it wasn’t a bar. It was an exclusive private club – actually near the Pentagon, and run by the widow of a former local government official. Tarantino had been there all day in ‘quiet discussion’ with three other men. He had, after all, just been questioned by a Government Committee about possible ‘unAmerican’ activities.

And it seems all of them, including Tarantino , have done work for the CIA. They all know each other. One of the men also works for the new Democratic White House Chief of Staff. The other two have direct connections with Condaleeza Rice…

At the inquest, the widow says she saw nothing, and the three ‘spooks’ stick to their story. And the coroner records a verdict of self-defence.

Read Charles Nicholls’ book and work out for yourself what was going on. (And no, Marlowe does not become Shakespeare.)

Marlowe’s early work – Dido Queen of Carthage – is on at the National Theatre, London from March.