BWW Review: Seattle Shakes' TITUS ANDRONICUS More Than Just Bloody
Power shifts, betrayal, adultery, rape, murder and lots and lots of blood. No it's not the latest Tarantino film but it might as well be as Seattle Shakespeare Company puts up their latest effort, "Titus Andronicus" but with a dark and edgy grindhouse feel. But beyond all the blood there's still some wonderful Shakespeare behind it and some stirring moments from the cast.
It's definitely one of the more gratuitous of Shakespeare's plays as revered General Titus Andronicus (Andrew McGinn) returns home from the war after successfully defeating the Goths. He's lost many sons in the battles but has captured Tamora (Rachel Glass), the Queen of the Goths, and her sons and lover. In retribution he instantly kills one of her sons thus beginning an endless string of "eye for an eye" revenge plots as Tamora manages to woo the Emperor Saturninus (George Mount) giving her the freedom and power to send her two barbarous sons Demetrius and Chiron (Ian Bond and Christopher Morson) and her Moor lover Aaron (Sylvester Foday Kamara) after Titus' daughter Lavinia (Angelica Duncan) and remaining son Lucius (Trevor Young Marston). All of which results in rape, murder, dismemberment and a dinner party no one wants to be invited to.
Director David Quicksall keeps the bloody Grindhouse tone of the piece alive with some gruesomely hysterical blood effects and modern day touches keeping the time period fluid. And with the murders happening at such a breakneck pace the morbidity of the show becomes almost comical in the vein of groaning and cringing in a horror movie.
The ensemble does a fine job but some fall into the trap of saying the pretty speeches but not quite getting across the meanings of them. Luckily there are also some wonderful players who completely get the point of what they are saying and manage to stand out with outrageous and complex characterizations. McGinn's descent into madness manages a subtly of less mad and more focused revenge making for a stunning climax. Marston too has a stunning focus and understanding of his role making him a joy to watch. Duncan may not have much to say (especially in Act Two) but her resulting broken young woman is quite eerie. And Bond and Morson make for the most deliciously creepy little weasels making their presence on stage equal parts riveting and hard to watch (but in a good way).
The show, while having a few missteps, does manage to make up for them with some wonderful performances and more gore than you can shake a severed limb at and so with my three letter rating system I give "Titus Andronicus" a bloody YAY. And not to worry, they're pretty good at keeping the blood on them and not on the audience.
"Titus Andronicus" from Seattle Shakespeare Company performs at the Center Theatre through February 7th. For tickets or information contact the Seattle Shakespeare Company box office at 206-733-8222 or visit them online at www.seattleshakespeare.org.