Born with Teeth

Christine Sarkes and Erika Sasseville (a mother/daughter review)

Photo: Lynn Lane
Photo: Lynn Lane

What do two of the greatest literary figures of the Elizabethan era–William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe–create when they spend hours together writing a play? The answer: Fire and magic! That is what the audience witnessed during opening night of Born With Teeth by Liz Duffy Adams at the Guthrie Theater. The stage practically sizzled with the electricity and brilliance of its leading actors Matthew Amendt (‘Kit’ Marlowe) and Dylan Godwin as Shakespeare.

The play imagines a fictional faceoff between the two rivals as they collaborate on a history play cycle. Set in 1590s London, Born With Teeth imagines their rivalry through witty banter, sexy flirtation and deadly serious discussions about the mortal dangers of the Elizabethan court system. While meeting in the back room of a pub to flesh out the remaining acts of the play, Kit and Will discuss religion, Queen Elizabeth’s omnipresent spy network, poetry, love, sex, and the meaning of life.

Kit is embroiled in court intrigue so deeply that he tries to provoke and cajole Will into revealing compromising information about himself and his family, while Will protests his innocence and focuses instead on the writing. Amendt as Kit oozes danger and leopardine sensuality as he prowls and preens across the stage in an attempt to seduce Will and convince him to join the spy network. Kit’s growing admiration for Will’s talent makes him both more lethal and vulnerable.

Their dialogue is a masterclass in lyrical banter and Shakespearean insults. Amendt’s comedic timing and facial expressions are superbly executed. Really, it would be hard to find a better actor to play Marlowe. His performance is worth the ticket price alone. Godwin as Will is overshadowed by the larger-than-life-ness of Marlowe, but he imbues his Will with a convincing vulnerability and earnestness. Adams Duffy’s love letter to all things Shakespearean is a must-see for any fan of literature, language and theater.

Born With Teeth by Liz Duffy Adams, directed by Rob Melrose, with Michael Locher (Scenic Designer), Alejo Vietti (Costume Designer), Carolina Ortiz Herrera (Lighting Designer), Cliff Caruthers (Sound Designer/Composer), Aaron Preusse (Fight Director), Jocelyn A. Thompson (Stage Manager). Through April 2 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Single tickets range from $31 to $80 at the Box Office: 612.377.2224 (single), 1.877.447.8243 (toll free), 612.225.6244 (group) or online at Accessibility services (ASL-interpreted, audio-described and open-captioned performances) are available on select dates. For up-to-date information about the theater’s health and safety policies, visit


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