Tamburlaine Must Die
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sat 3–Sun 11 Nov
Considering she hasn’t even seen the script, Louise Welsh is remarkably relaxed about the upcoming Glasgay! production of her 2004 novella, which trails the playwright and spy Christopher Marlowe around the mean Elizabethan backstreets in the three days leading up to his murder. Tamburlaine Must Die has been adapted for the stage by Kenny Miller, who performed a similar service on the Citizens’ production of Welsh’s debut, The Cutting Room in 2003. Welsh has no qualms about working with him again.
‘Kenny’s priority, when he’s making theatre, is the same as mine when I’m writing a book. He’s concerned with making the best possible work. So I’ve stepped back completely this time. I’ve promised I won’t stand up and start screaming “NOOO!”’
‘I was actually writing Tamburlaine while Kenny and Tam (Dean Burn) were working on The Cutting Room. Seeing it come alive onstage, having the backstage view, fed into the way I shaped the way I wrote my Marlowe. That, and I think Johnny Depp’s legs were in there somewhere too.’
Welsh’s original text is written in lush, visceral prose. Replicating that quality on the stage means translating it into a more visual medium, and Welsh presumes it will find expression in the set design, which Miller is also undertaking.
‘The Elizabethan age was a time of huge advances in art and science, and yet they’re still just a step away from fires in the middle of the room. That’s what I want to see come to life – the contrast between the high art Marlowe makes on the stage and the squalor of the surroundings.’