The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1374  Wednesday, 24 August 2005

From: 		Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date: 		Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Subject: 	Titus in East Lansing Reviews


Pro and Con of 'The Titus Andronicus Experience'

  'Titus' adaptation a bloody mess

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

"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.

[ . . .]

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

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