A scene from Tamburlaine at Brooklyn’s Theatre for a New Audience.

Planning a date ought to involve hope, care, and a reasonable expectation that the invitee will enjoy what has been laid on. Simple enough principles, but judging by what I witnessed during the RSC veteran Michael Boyd’s powerful production of Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine (Parts I and II) at Brooklyn’s Theatre for a New Audience, the man sitting two down from me had not followed them.

He and his date (perhaps his wife, which would be no...

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