Actor Tony Haygarth's new play about the death of Christopher Marlowe opens at London's King's Head Theatre, from tonight, 7 September 2001. Entitled The Lie, the production features a major cast including Kenneth Colley (pictured left), Derren Nesbitt, William Travis (pictured right) and Gordon Reid.

Haygarth's drama concerns the possible reasons why Marlowe might, or might not, have been murdered. Beginning at the coroner's inquest, the story then examines the various options concerning Marlowe's fate, including the notion that he may even have been smuggled out of the country.

The poet and playwright was allegedly stabbed to death in a tavern brawl on 30 May 1593. Ingram Frizer, who admitted to the killing, claimed it was an act of self-defence and was released after only two weeks in prison. The real truth behind Marlowe's life and death has busied historians and literary speculators ever since, with some claiming that Marlowe's writing career was a cover-up for covert political activities.

Haygarth comments: "The Lie is 90 per cent fact, nine per cent supposition and one per cent dramatic licence. I have used... many contemporary plays and documents to create an authentic Elizabethan vocabulary and manner of speech. It is terse, biting, but gentle at times".

A veteran of the British stage and screen, Haygarth's theatre work includes Twelve Angry Men (Olivier nomination at the National), No Man's Land (Gate, Dublin), The Hothouse (Chichester and West End), plus leads in The Merchant of Venice and Macbeth for the RSC. His film career has taken in London Kills Me, The Woodlanders and McVicar, alongside TV appearances in Boys From the Black Stuff and Where The Heart Is.

Kenneth Colley's theatre work includes Gangster No 1 (Almeida), Sea Change (Riverside) and Oedipus (National Theatre). His extensive film career has featured The Life of Brian, The Empire Strikes Back, Brassed Off and Hold Back the Night. Derren Nesbitt trained at RADA and has worked with Sir Peter Hall's Oxford company and widely in the West End. Major film works include Where Eagles Dare, Moll Flanders, Victim and Bullseye.

Stephen Fewell, who plays Marlowe, trained at the Webber Douglas Academy. Other stage performances include Macbeth (Salisbury Playhouse), Lady Windermere's Fan (Royal Exchange) and the Lost Musical Of Thee I Sing (Barbican). Film and TV include All Rise for Julian Clary (BBC) and The Kissing Game.

The Lie is directed by Adam Meggido, who co-founded Counterpoint Theatre in 1994. Co-producer is Kate McGoldrick, a company founder and actress with Off The Cuff. The production has been developed and produced by The Sticking Place - a film and theatre outfit whose cinematic debut came at this year's Edinburgh Film Festival.

- by Gareth Thompson