Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge
Tamora, Queen of the Goths
There is a reason why schools do not teach William Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.” It is gory, bloody and extremely sinful. All the characters are so murderous they can’t see anything past what angers them. There are innocents, like the fair Lavinia (played by the extraordinary gifted Katie Pelensky) who greatly suffers under the torment of others. That said, it’s one of the best tragedies the Bard created. Andronicus goes to the underbelly of malevolent lost souls with no moral compass. They do what they wish, when they want and feel justified. Nowhere is this seen most clearly than with Tamora (the remarkable Rebekah Tripp) and her equally power hungry lover Aaron (Anthony Mark Barrow does an excellent job). Vengeance is what drives this couple and they take to a level that while repels it’s irrestible to watch unfold.
Ted Barton plays the renowned general with both vulnerability and military strength. Titus does not take a break as a leader. After ten years of battling against the Goths, Andronicus cannot turn off being an officer. He kills his son, Mutius, during an insignificant brawl. Barton effortlessly makes Titus appear fragile with his soldierly background intact. Though appearing to be weak and delicate, Titus plays along with Tamora and her sons Demetrius (a very talented Christopher Salazar) and Chiron (the equally talented Zach Kanner) who gleefully takes part in making Titus believe he is going insane. The morbid family takes on the roles of Revenge (Tamora) Rape (Chiron) and Murder (Demetrius). Titus converses with the decaying family and makes them believe he is indeed going crazy. A most effective military tactic he probably picked up in the battle against the Goths. As the aging Titus plays with the debauched family, Aaron has a son by Tamora he needs to protect. Not even fatherhood softens the evil inside him. He proudly states about murdering more lives that “…nothing grieves me heartily indeed, But that I cannot do ten thousand more.”
As I mentioned earlier, there’s a reason why Shakespeare’s “Andronicus” isn’t taught in school. It’s a candid interpretation on people with no moral center. This play is a candid example on what happens when compassion and forgiveness are absent and replaced with maliciousness and deterioration on body, mind and soul. Such wickedness and evil is never beautifully written and explained as in this production.
“Shakespeare’s Andronicus” plays until this weekend. Friday, August 22nd, Saturday, August 23rd and 30th at 8 p.m., Sunday, August 31st at 7 p.m. at The Lyric Hyperion Theatre, located at 2106 Hyperion Avenue in Los Angeles. For ticket information, reserve online at www.coeurage.org/tickets or call 323-944-2165.