The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1374 Wednesday, 24 August 2005
From: Hardy M. Cook <
Date: Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Subject: Titus in East Lansing Reviews
Pro and Con of 'The Titus Andronicus Experience'
'Titus' adaptation a bloody mess
By TOM HELMA
Forget the blood. Come to think of it, if you had any curiosity
whatsoever as to whether to go see Sunsets with Shakespeare's so-called
adaptation of William Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus," forget that
idea, too. While I am, by no means, an extremely rabid fan of the
Bard's works, I can tell the difference between a modernized version of
a classical work and the wholesale trashing of that work that was
presented this past Sunday at Valley Court Park in East Lansing. I
walked out in disgust at the intermission. Around two-thirds of the
audience of around 50 people followed suit. It was that bad.
How bad? Let me count the ways. Whereas the last summer presentation of
a Shakespeare play by the Sunset folks could be forgiven - the director
was a 20-year-old first-time director and most of the cast were high
school students - many of the actors in this play were adults who should
know better, as should Sunset's founder and this play's director and
adaptor, Todd Heywood. What was he thinking?
Drunken fraternity students doing a read-through at an MSU fall mixer
could have done a better job. Medicated schizophrenics at a state mental
hospital could have done a better job. What of further interest can one
say about a cast that stands around in goofy mix-matched clothes looking
and acting stupid?
[. . . ]
'Titus' is deliriously hilarious
By T.E. KLUNZINGER
"Titus Andronicus" was, I'm told, Shakespeare's first performed play and
very much a potboiler for its day, playing to the cheap seats with its
unrelentingly grim presentation of revenge, violence and gore. As
presented this week at East Lansing's Valley Court Park by Sunsets With
Shakespeare, this is not that play. (Shakespeare purists be warned.)
Rather, as adapted and directed by Todd Heywood, it is very much what
it's billed as: "The Titus Andronicus Experience," a deliriously
over-the-top re-imagining of a work which, if done "straight," would be
almost too painful to watch. The words are still Shakespeare - well,
except for the ad libs - but the presentation is totally Heywood. The
basic conceit is that the characters are all grungy lowlifes inhabiting
a trailer park called Rome. Thus it comes as no surprise that the lead
character keeps killing his own grown children, that there's lots of
wife-swapping and fornicating - it's the kind of thing you see on Jerry
Springer all the time.
The fact that there's an actual large dumpster out beyond the tacky
sheets that serve as backdrops, into which locals are tossing cans and
bottles while the show is running, and that a frat party is underway
nearby ... well, that just adds to the verisimilitude.
[ . . .]
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Hardy M. Cook,
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