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Cincinnati Shakespeare Company performs Titus Andronicus

By Patrick Phillips
On December 9, 2012

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company puts on some of
Cincinnati's greatest performances. Opening this year with a successful The Hound of Baskerville and their award-winning To Kill a Mockingbird, I could not wait to see what Cincy Shakes had to offer with their special event performance of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Deliciously disgusting yet carnivorously captivating, Cincy Shakes' Titus Andronicus was perfectly portrayed.
Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare's first tragedy and his most gruesome. It's revenge against revenge in this bloody piece. This tragedy features chopped off limbs, bittenoff
tongues and people-pastries. You think that sounds morbid? Imagine what it is like seeing it all happen. Fortunately, the obvious challenges of this dark tragedy are
in the hands of some of the most talented performers I have ever seen. Visually, the production was stunning. Steampunk themed, every costume was styled Victorian
era-meets-steam-engine. For instance, many of the characters wore Victorian goggles, clock gears were used as jacket buttons and soldiers' guns were goldenbrown. The play was so visceral in its portrayals of Lavinia's silence and torture. Demetrius bites off Lavinia's tongue, oozing blood out of her mouth, and a tip of the tongue in the middle of the stage. It does not stop there. Five minutes
later, the ravished Lavinia is thrown in the middle of the stage with two bloodied stumps for hands. Nothing was more disturbing, however, than the meal Titus prepares for his nemesis, Tamora Queen of the Goths. Grinding her sons' heads into a pastry, Titus serves them to Tamora and, upon her realizastion of what is in the food, he slays her. I could not help but squirm in my seat as my stomach
continued to flip. The acting was superb. Most notably was Nicholas Rose as Titus Andronicus. His Titus is one of
the most talented performances I have ever seen. He flawlessly portrayed Titus's thirst for vengeance. Wailing upon Lavinia's bloodied return into his arms, Rose gave
the audience the ability to connect to such an unthinkable situation, bringing a tear to the audience's eyes. His eerie laughter and crazed character brought an unsettling comedic air to the second act. It is no surprise that the League of Cincinnati Theatres nominated him this year for Best Lead Actor in a Play. Cincy Shakes' production of Titus Andronicus was one of the most visually disturbing yet wildly entertaining nights of theater I have ever experienced. Wait, I take that back. It WAS he most visually disturbing yet wildly entertaining nights of theater I have ever experienced.


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