To celebrate the 450th anniversary of the playwright Christopher Marlowe’s birth, I organised a screening of Derek Jarman’s film adaptation of Edward II – inside St Nicholas’ Church, Deptford, where Marlowe lies buried in an unmarked grave.
Based on Marlowe’s dramatisation of a true story. When King Edward II takes a male lover, Piers Gaveston, both his wife (Tilda Swinton) and palace officials are enraged – and plot to violently dethrone the king and dispatch Gaveston. Adapted by the radical British filmmaker Derek Jarman, the film contrasts the lavish 16th century text and setting with modern imagery of gay activists, riot police, yuppies and an unforgettable cameo from Annie Lennox.
Before the film, audience members were entertained with live music from violinist Daniel Merrill. Following the screening, Jody Graber (who played King Edward’s son) and K Collins (Jarman’s partner, and Lightborn the jailer) ended the evening with a short Q&A.
- “Marlowe meets MTV.” Washington Post
- “A mesmerizing film that bristles with fury, sexuality and radical wit.” Rolling Stone
- “A majestic blend of visual audacity, political relevance and raw sexual energy, which wrests from the original work a lean, pulsating narrative of power, repression and jealousy.” Movie Mail
- “This modern dress adaptation of Marlowe’s play excites through its sheer guts and combativeness. Despite the visual lyricism, the mood is raw and angry.” Time Out