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Titus Andronicus! The Musical

Titus Andronicus has always been a problematic "Shakespeare" play: despite the body count in many of the tragedies, gratuitous violence is uncharacteristic of the playwright. However, noted critic Harold Bloom makes a very strong case that the play is a parody of contemporary rival Christopher Marlowe's style. This argument is backed up by the only extant drawing from the original, which shows Titus in a tutu-like costume. All this makes perfect sense, for Marlowe was excessive. We must also point out that satire shows up elsewhere in the canon, such as the spoof on Euphuism that is at the heart of Love's Labor's Lost or the farce that is The Taming of the Shrew.

Photo of Muni Kulasignhe, Erik Edborg, Erin Rollman, Brian Colona, and Hannah Duggan
The ensemble of Muni Kulasignhe,
Erik Edborg, Erin Rollman, Brian
Colona, and Hannah Duggan
Photo by Sandra H. Elkind
But such ideas are merely theories until verified by an actual production, and that is exactly what Buntport Theatre has done in it's current work, Titus Andronicus! The Musical. If ever there was a doubt that this play was meant to be performed over-the-top, the worthy Buntport players have put that notion to rest forever. Mixing about half the playwright's original book with their own score and lyrics, the troupe has put together one of the funniest and most inventive productions that I've ever seen.

Photo of Brian Colonna (aka Professor P.S. McGoldstien) as Titus
Brian Colonna (aka Professor
P.S. McGoldstien) as Titus
Photo by Sandra H. Elkind
As the audience is seated, it is confronted with a bare space populated by only a van and a scoreboard decorated with the faces of the five players, underneath which is a listing of their respective roles, each set off by its own light bulb. After Professor P.S. McGoldstien (Brian Colonna) introduces the piece, the rear door of the van opens to reveal a backdrop of Paris, whoops, wrong one, ah, there, Roma! As the players shift roles, the odd man out works the scoreboard, turning the light bulbs on and off to signify who's who. Another part of the scoreboard keeps track of the casualties (37 in all). Wrigley Field, move over.

When the scene changes, the players push the van to reveal a different backdrop painted on one side panel or another. All the props are made from car parts: a talking gas can and a smoking radio serve as puppets, seat belts as ropes and chains, an air filter as a crown, umbrellas as swords and shields and trees, and a dip stick as another sword.

Photo of Hannah Duggan as Lavinia
Hannah Duggan as Lavinia
Photo by Sandra H. Elkind
The crazed ensemble (Brian Colonna, Erik Edborg, Hanna Duggan, Erin Rollman, and Muni Kulasinghe) are all a delight, equally at home dismembering themselves or doing a soft shoe. Titus Andronicus! The Musical is adapted, produced, designed, directed, and built collaboratively by the aforementioned group plus Matt Petraglia and SamAnTha Schmitz. It runs through March 2nd. 720-946-1388.



Bob Bows

 

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