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Review: BORN WITH TEETH Brings High-Class Elizabethan Fan Fiction to The Alley Theatre

Liz Duffy Adams' Born With Teeth Comes to the Alley Theatre in Houston, TX

Review: BORN WITH TEETH Brings High-Class Elizabethan Fan Fiction to The Alley Theatre
Dylan Godwin and Mathew Amendt
Photo by Lynn Lane

Everyone has those important artists they dream of seeing together, the genius writers who if locked in a room together would have some of the greatest conversations. The wonderful thing about fiction is how we can bring life to those conversations and make them just as exciting as we imagine they are.

Every era has its writers that would be perfect for these dreamt-up battles of art and wit. Nowadays I'd pay good money to see Kendrick and Kanye talk it out. In the 2000s it'd be the Coen Brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson grabbing lunch in between filming There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men, two classics made at the same time right next to each other. In the 20th century, there was no greater meeting of the minds than Bob Dylan introducing The Beatles to a certain relaxation technique, swapping genres in the process. In the 1800s it'd have to be Arthur Conan Doyle meeting Agatha Christy. The 1700s belong to Hamilton V. Jefferson, and a play featuring them has done quite well.

The list could go on forever and it'd still be hard to find a more titillating meeting between theatrical minds than the possible collaboration between William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Did they actually work together? Modern scholars seem to think so but the very nature of Shakespeare's work has always been debated. Surely he must have worked with someone, right? Either way, Liz Duffy Adams' Born With Teeth isn't concerned with what actually happened. It's what could have happened that's all the more interesting. Shakespeare and Marlowe could have been begrudged collaborators or they could have been sworn enemies. Born With Teeth isn't showing truth. It's making us the fly on the wall for the most intriguing possibility.

It's one part fan fiction, one part examination of egos, and another part commentary of the destructive capabilities of societal expectations. We spend ninety minutes watching a game between the best writers of their time. The stakes range from who can be the most clever to life and death. For a play that spends all its time on two characters in one location, it did a remarkable job presenting an ever-unfolding path of twists and turns. The Audience (i) was with gasped more than once when they were taken off guard.

This is an actor-driven play if there ever was one. The costume department did their part by dressing them up as, well, "sexy, evil, Hamlet" and it's the job of the actors to live up to that part. I can confirm that my plus one was fangirling over them the entire night. Resident acting company member Dylan Godwin brings the same intellectual vulnerability he gives to every performance. He has the uncanny ability to make us sympathize with any character while making it clear the wheels are always spinning in their mind. The experienced Mathew Amendt portrays a commanding and mischievous Marlowe. He's a man open about his dark side, aware people will fall for his trap even if he warns them. Both actors were at the top of their game, never missing a beat, always in sync, and constantly playing with each other.

Then there's the sexual tension. All I can say is, why not? If you saw Lennon-McCartney working in their prime, wouldn't you want to see them kiss?

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