Leave the children at home for Theatricum Botanicum’s upcoming production of Titus Andronicus, opening July 30. In this violent and disturbing saga of vengeance and retribution, director Ellen Geer explores questions of leadership and the relationship between government and its citizens as the company takes on Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy. It is recommended for mature audiences due to adult themes and violence.
When general Titus Andronicus returns from war with prisoners Queen Tamora, her lover and her sons, he hands over Tamora’s eldest son for sacrifice, and so sets off a bloody cycle of violence that swiftly accelerates out of control.
“Here’s a 400-year-old play that outdoes even the unimaginable horrors we hear about daily in today’s news,” says Geer. “At its core, it’s the story of a government gone awry. These leaders haven’t been elected by the people. They have been put into positions of power by political insiders. They don’t answer to their citizens, but to the gods of greed, envy and revenge.”
Titus Andronicus is often seen as Shakespeare’s early attempt to emulate the popular, bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries. According to dramaturg Isabel Smith-Bernstein, Shakespeare may have set the play in ancient Rome because he was living in a time reminiscent of the cruelties of that era, a time when violence and death were part of everyday life: in sports such as bear baiting and hunting, in public floggings and executions, and in the wars that divided empires. Death was always looming with threats of illness and plague.
Viewing the play as a cautionary tale for our own times, Geer sets Theatricum’s production in the not-too-distant future, making use of Jordan-Marc Diamond’s costumes and an original soundscape created by composer Marshall McDaniel to define time and place.
Sheridan Crist stars in the title role, with Marie-Françoise Theodore as Queen Tamora; Michael McFall as Tamora’s lover, Aaron; Christopher W. Jones as Saturninus; Willow Geer as Lucia; Mark Lewis as Publius; and Melora Marshall as “Marcia” (Marcus) Andronicus.
The cast also includes Kamran Abbassian, Raúl Ramón Bencomo, Clayton Cook, Turner Frankosky, Bradley Gosnell, Alexandra Hensley, Nima Jafari, Richard Johnson, Cindy Kania, Finn Kerwin, Kathleen Leary, Shane McDermott, Kelvin Morales, Precious Ra’Akbar, Alexander Sheldon, Talya Sindel, Daniel A. Stevens, Sky Wahl, Alexandre Wauthier, Michelle Wicklas and Miebaka Yohannes.
Lighting design is by Zach Moore, fight choreography is by Aaron Hendry; and the production stage manager is Pete Parkin.
July 30 – October 1, 2016 (7:30 pm)
1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd. in Topanga
(midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley)
Tickets: 310-455-3723 or www.theatricum.com