October 2012 will be remembered by me as the bloodiest theatrical month ever. Every time the lights go down, someone gets stabbed, slashed, hammered, or golf clubbed. This month is brutal!
The Right Brain Project presents TITUS ANDRONICUS. The conquering war hero Titus returns to his homeland with prisoners, including Tamora the Queen of the Goth. Titus refuses the throne but endorses Saturninus becoming king. Saturninus returns the favor by taking Titus‘ daughter Lavinia for his bride. Lavinia actually loves Saturninus‘ brother. After much family feuding, Saturninus takes a different wife, Tamora. And the former prisoner of war uses her role as a queen to get revenge. Beheadings, behandings, betrayings, the wicked queen instigates a bloody massacre. TITUS ANDRONICUS has pissed off the wrong people and his family is going to pay for it.
In his day, this Shakespeare revenge play was very popular. It wasn’t until the Victorian Era that the carnage and rape show fell out of favor with audiences. The incredibly intense play is now one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays. Director Emma Peterson ambitiously stages TITUS A in the intimate space of RBP Theatre. Seventeen actors are in the play. Twenty seats are available for the audience. Peterson creates a thrust stage with an endcap. It’s like a capital I with a serif font. The audience is on either side of the runway. The action is in your-face and in your-hair personal. The bloody finale requires ponchos for the audience. It’s a bloody mess and I’m glad that I had the supplied plastic covering.
Under Peterson’s direction, the acting is excellent. Simina Contras (Tamora) is outstanding as the evil Queen. A leather clad Contras is unapologetically ferocious. The song lyrics ‘ooh, barracuda‘ ran through my head whenever she arrived on stage. Without saying a word, the tragic Susan Myburgh (Lavinia) garners heartfelt sympathy for her plight. Dennis Newport (Titus) and Nick Freed (Lucius) command the stage with inspirational and majestic soliloquies. They’re just too long.
I would highly recommend two hours of this show for the passionately-committed cast and well-orchestrated happenings. Unfortunately, it’s a three hour show. It’s like being in the den of someone else’s home during a family squabble. Awkwardly close for an extended amount of time is not a welcome experience. In such a small theatre, the audience is also on stage for the three hour duration. So, when the guy across from me is texting throughout the show, he pulls focus as one of the bad guys in the play. That’s not good! TITUS ANDRONICUS, I’d love you more if you were just bloody shorter.
Running Time: Three hours includes an intermission
At Right Brain Project Theatre, 4001 N.Ravenswood
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Emma Peterson
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm
Special industry performances: Oct 22nd and Nov 5th at 8pm, Nov 4th at 3pm
Thru November 10th
Reserve Tickets with RPB box office at 773.750.2033