By William Shakespeare
Directed by John Trigonis
"I shall never come to bliss
Till all these mischiefs be return'd again
Even in their throats that have committed them"
August 4-16, 2003
For the final show of the summer season, HSC delved into a title not done very often on either a local or regional level, Shakespeare's first attempt in the Tragedy genre - Titus Andronicus. More comparable to a modern day horror movie, Shakespeare adapted the story of Titus to follow a popular form of theater in vogue in his early career - the Revenge Tragedy. The protagonist(s) are wronged in a vile way by their enemies and the plot follows their revenge, usually resulting in bloody and fatal circumstances. Though bloody and gory in its scope, Shakespeare explored the depths of human misery and their resolve to act in the face of overwhelming hardship and presenting several character types that would dominate his later plays. HSC presented this piece in a modern dress juxtaposing a military with present day Goth culture. Our other notable departure from the traditional play was depicting the character of Aaron, a Moor, as Caucasian woman. Showing how one of Shakespeare's earliest "you love to hate them" villains can appear in any guise. To see the accompanying article for this show click here.
The story of Titus follows the doings of Rome's top general, Titus Andronicus (Jon Ciccarelli), in the early days of the empire after the death of the emperor. Titus finally defeats the barbaric Goths, lead by Queen Tamora (Elizabeth Sugarman), after a ten-year war which results in heavy casualties on both sides. As Titus leads his remaining army to bury their dead and offer up his prisoners into Rome's center, a power struggle assumes between the emperor's two surviving sons, Saturninus (Jef Cozza) and Bassianus (John Trigonis). Both plead Rome to elect them emperor, however, Marcus Andronicus (Clark Williams), a Tribune and Titus' brother, seek to have Titus elected instead. Titus, refuses such a loft title for an old solider and persuades the electorate to name Saturninus as the new emperor. Saturninus' first act as emperor is to seize Lavinia (April Dawn Brown), Titus daughter and betrothed to his brother Bassianus. A skirmish ensues as Bassianus enlists Titus' sons to reclaim Lavinia. Feeling betrayed and dishonored by his entire family, Titus attempts to take Lavinia but kills his own son in the process. As the smoke clears, Saturninus informs Titus that he has instead will take another bride, one not as treacherous as his family, his enemy Tamora. All are reconciled at Tamora's insistence but she reveals that she will seek revenge on the entire Andronicus family for the death of her first born son.
Above left, the newly crowned emperor Saturninus (Jef Cozza, center) revels in his new title with Titus (Jon Ciccarelli, right) and Marcus (Clark Williams), picture Sinatra Park, Hoboken, NJ. Above right, the defeated Goth army is brought before the people of Rome, picture Stratford Library, Stratford, CT
Emperor Saturninus (Jef Cozza) steals Lavinia (April Dawn Brown) from her betrothed, his brother Bassianus (John Trigonis, left)
As the intended couples gather for a wedding and a celebratory hunt, Aaron (Sarah Strasser) muses on her new place in Roman society. Listening to Tamora's two demented children Demetrius (Jared Reinmuth) and Chiron (Robin Meredith) lust after Lavinia, she decides to put the first phase of Tamora's revenge in motion. During the hunt, Bassianus is killed and Lavinia is raped by Tamora's children. Adding further injury, Lavinia's tongue and hands are cut off and her brother is framed for Bassianus murder. Titus pleading for his son's life finds that his eldest son Lucius (Ian Kerch) has now been banished for attempting to free his brother. Marcus arrives to show him the mutilated Lavinia, whom he has discovered in the forest. As the family deal with their misery, Aaron arrives with a supposed offer to return Titus his son if he cut off one of his hands. Titus agrees, but is then tricked as his son's head and hand are returned to him. The overwhelming grief incites Titus to rally his family out their misery and sends Lucius off to the Goths to raise an army for him. Lavinia reveals through a story in Ovid's Metamorphoses what happened to her.
Above left, lover Tamora (Elizabeth Sugarman) and Aaron (Sarah Strasser) steal a moment alone as their plan for revenge is set in motion. Above right, Chiron (Robyn Meredith) holds a Bassianus (John Trigonis) and Lavinia (April Dawn Brown) captive.
Above left, Marcus (Clark Williams) cries over the ravaged Lavinia (April Dawn Brown). Above right, a horrified Titus (Jon Ciccarelli) receives his daughter.
Now knowing his enemy, a supposedly mad Titus, shoots messages to the gods to enlist their help, but instead angers Saturninus as the messages fall on his house. Saturninus, in his rage seeks to have Titus executed but Tamora decides on another way. Instead of a politically messy death, let the mad old man reveal himself a fool in public. Tamora and her children dress as the spirits of Revenge, Murder and Rape, sent in response to Titus' pleads gulling him to gather a feast where Roman and Goth dignitaries will attend and their will he get his revenge, but instead Tamora looks to publicly humiliate him. Titus agrees and orders Lucius back, but indicates to the audience that he knows who these "divine" beings actually are. He asks that Murder and Rape stay with him to plot revenge, but instead captures Demetrius and Chiron. Enlisting Lavinia in his plot of revenge, he parades her in front of his victims and repeats their crimes. He cuts their throats and then bakes them into a pie that is served to their mother and the emperor at the intended feast. Knowing that the only way to exact full revenge will result in their own deaths, Titus kills his daughter, to take her by his own hand. Titus reveals that, Demetrius and Chiron raped and mutilated her and have just been fed on by their mother. Titus kills Tamora, who is then in return killed by Saturninus. Lucius ends the bloody cycle, by killing him, the benefactor of the entire sad story. Lucius and Marcus are left to pick up the pieces of their shattered family and society as Lucius is crowned emperor.
Above left, Titus (Jon Ciccarelli) having given up his hand is comforted by his brother Marcus (Clark Williams). Above right, Lavinia (April Dawn Brown) identifies her attackers and Titus plans their next move.
Tamora (Elizabeth Sugarman, center) gathers with her children Chiron (Robyn Meredith) and Demetrius (Jared Reinmuth) disguised as the spirits of Revenge, Rape and Murder to dupe the supposedly mad Titus.
Titus and Lavinia exact revenge on Demetrius and Chiron
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