I’ve often wondered what the modern equivalent for gory Renaissance tragedy is, but I never thought to compare it with hardboiled detective film. The Final Act at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis (407 West 15th St.) blends these two styles into a gripping murder mystery about the death of Christopher Marlowe. There are few authors more shrouded in myth and unsubstantiated rumor than Marlowe, except for Shakespeare, his contemporary. But to my knowledge, no one ever accused Shakespeare of being a double-crossing spy. And if the movie Shakespeare in Love were re-done in the style of The Big Sleep, it would be hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
The Final Act is a strange mash-up, but it works wonderfully. Though in blank verse, characters deliver their lines with Bogart-esque panache and a sense of humor. The cadence of film noir is decidedly not the same as that of blank verse, but in large measure the actors rose to this challenge. The set and costumes are Elizabethan, but subtly re-tooled to suggest classic murder mystery elements. For a plot as intricate as a starched neck ruff, come see this exciting Fringe Fest play!