Magickal working or criminal fraud? Of all medieval occultists, Edward Kelley is the one figure most often accused of fakery — and this in a field well-known for it’s grand fabulists and great exaggerators. Now the life and lies of this 16th century alchemist are living again in the Taffety Punk Theatre Company‘s latest play, “Burn Your Bookes”, beginning on April 28 at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop.

Subtitled “An Alchemical Triptych,” “Burn” — written by and starring DC’s own Richard Byrne — covers Kelley’s pursuit of the fabled Philosopher’s Stone and his well-documented skills of coercion. Let’s hope his Middle Ages wife-swapping with Elizabethan court magician, Dr. John Dee, makes the final cut. (History tells us Dee agreed only after Kelley told him that angelic spirit had insisted on the arrangement. Kelley’s loose morals eventually landed him in prison, where he’d wind up dying after a botched escape attempt.)

According director and Taffety Punk regular Marcus Kyd, the play’s aesthetic is directly drawn from the work of artists Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Charles Vess and Dave McKean — all of whom, at one point or another, collaborated with author Neil Gaiman on the goth-loved, mid-90s comic series, “The Sandman”. Judging from the publicity photos of Byrne in the role of Kelley (pictured), they weren’t faking — even if their subject was.

“Burn Your Bookes” begins previews on April 28 and will run from April 30 through May 22. For show times and tickets, visit:

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Culture “BURN YOUR BOOKES”: An Alchemist’s Tale Retold on Capitol Hill