today at 5:28 pm
A Story of Bloody Abomination
Haven Theatre brings to the Roman stage, the bloodiest play written by William Shakespeare, ‘Titus Andronicus,’ a story filled with violence, murder, revenge, politics, class, culture, and gender. The Romans, who were the mortal enemies of the Goths, battled against Titus Andronicus, a Roman general, and his army. He returns from ten years of war, with only four out of twenty-five sons left. He has captured Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her three sons, and Aaron the Moor. In obedience to Roman rituals, he sacrifices her eldest son to his dead sons, which earns him Tamora’s unending hatred and her promise of revenge.
As we walked into the theater at Haven, one of the ushers told us that the play runs three hours, after marinating on the lengthy time, and getting settled into our front row seats. I (Brenda) overheard the lady sitting two seats away, ‘I hope we don’t get splattered with any blood.’ My first reaction was as big as this space is, I hope not, so I immediately turned my focused on the Afro-futuristic storyteller and dancer sitting on the stage looking out at the audience.
After everyone settled in, he started doing a tribal dance, which led to an intense choreographed ballet of war between the two opposing rivals who battled it out with blades and ruthless power. This battle dance was a prelude to what happened before the homecoming of Titus Andronicus (Colin Jones), the general of the Roman army, and his warriors from their triumph over the Goths.
As a reward to the gods, they get to choose a Goth to be sacrificed, which happens to be the son of Tamora (Michaela Petro). She pleads for his life; however, no mercy was granted. She seeks revenge after Titus with Aaron (Andrew Perez). So the blood bath begins of which includes hand chops, cannibalism, beheadings, rape, torture, and a tongue extraction, which was the making of a good night of Shakespearean horror on stage.
Artistic Director and Director Ian Damont Martin did a great job of diversification with a talented group of actors. He cast women to play male roles, Bassianus (Lakecia Harris), Chiron (Morgan Lavenstein), to play Tamora’s son. Titus’ brother/sister, Marcus, played by Gabrielle Lott-Rogers, she is referred to as Aunt Marcus in this play, in the original as uncle Marcus.
As he stated, “Often marginalized to the center of his work.” Martin then adds, “When a Black person embodies a text and world wherein characters say exactly what they think and feel, ultimately to harvest empathy and understanding – it’s a ripe and refreshing piece of catharsis.”
Colin Jones did a good job portraying the tragic hero of the play, The General of Rome and the father of Lavinia and Lucius. Tarina Bradshaw, as Lavinia, Titus’ only daughter, stayed graceful even after being brutally raped, mutilated, and tortured. Gregory D. Hicks, as Lucius, Titus only surviving son who becomes the Emperor of Rome. He was the only character that went through a substantial psychological transformation throughout the play, moving from bloodthirsty youth to sober leader.
The embodiment of Tamora, the Queen of Goth, mother of Chiron, and Demetrius, played by Michaela Petro, was quite entertaining to watch. Christopher Wayland, as Saturninus (the Emperor), the eldest son of the late Emperor of Rome, who Titus successfully advocated for him to be the new Emperor was hilarious.
The design element created by Sydney Lynne Thomas and lighting by Adrienne Miikelle was dreadful (light-toned wood in beige) for Roman times, given the grandeur space in which they were given we expected more of a lavish set. The costumes done by Lily Walls were not as elegant as you would expect for those times, and we were a little confused about what era this took place, especially when we saw gym shoes on one of the Goths and a push broom. The synchronized ballet dance by R&D Choreography was done very well.
Titus Andronicus was a little too long (three hours), and it dragged in some parts. Nonetheless, some of the performances were good, and we didn’t get any blood on us.
Let’s Play ‘Somewhat Recommend’ that you check out Titus Andronicus, the revenge tragedy by William Shakespeare.
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Artistic Director Ian Damont Martin
February 13 – March 14, 2020, at The Den Theatre