Titus Andronicus: The Radio Play
By William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Kelly Moore
Review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2016 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
Abigail Bailey Maupin, Sterling Pratt, Tad Chitwood, & Neill Roberston rehearsing Titus Andrionicus: The Radio Play. Photo by Kelly Moore.
If you are expecting a grandiose Shakespearean production of Titus Andronicus with grand gestures, postures and Elizabethan costumes, Savage Rose Theatre’s take is certainly not that. But we know better than to expect run of the mill Shakespeare from this company. In her curtain speech, Artistic Director Kelly Moore explained her choice to tell this story as a radio play by simply stating this performance, “demands more from the imagination,” and she couldn’t be more correct.
The scenery and costumes may be gone but the characters are certainly alive. Moore and her cast of voice actors, accompanied by sound engineers Sterling Pratt and Ashley Beck Heimbock, create a world of violent killings, dreary tragedy, and chaos. Each actor brings their vocal A-game as they match the swinging pendulum of emotions within this play. Tad Chitwood flexes his vocal muscle playing Titus Andronicus. Watching the character’s revenge comes to a boil, Chitwood’s vocal capacity is quite impressive as he addresses the crowds with an impenetrable boom, softly contemplates to himself, or desperately cries out in agony about his chaste daughter Lavinia. Chitwood leads the way for the rest of the cast to show off their vocal chops.
The rest of the cast proves to be just as strong. Gerry Rose brings a nice balance to Chitwood as Marcus, Titus’ brother. Neil Robertson is sly and cunning as Saturninus, the Emperor, while Abigail Bailey Maupin delights in Tamora’s prowess while delving deep into the script’s witty undertones. Braden McCampbell’s Aaron is a subtle villain who relies on an even-tempered delivery that delivers a powerful punch when he tortures Lavinia. Neil Brewer and Cameron Murphy bring a nice dynamic to Tamora’s sons, Demetrius and Chiron, mischievous youths who transform into casually viscious bullies without moral consequence. Melinda Beck steps up to the challenge of portraying Lavinia, a character made mute through violence and forced to communicate with great non-verbal sounds. Her delivery of the Bard’s verse was great but her emotional sounds, wailing and sobbing, was authentic, and at times, heartbreaking.
The production works best within the play’s most vulgar scenes; kudos to Sterling Pratt and Ashley Beck Heimbock for top notch sound effects. It’s no secret that this play is riddled with foul murder scenes and Beck and Pratt’s work accentuates the volatile action we hear before us. Bassianus’ death is made worse with a simple snap of celery; the innards of the watermelon halves create a gruesome aural image as Titus removes his hand. Even the mismatch china plates and brooms and leaves create great atmosphere along with the rhubarbing of the ensemble throughout the show.
Don’t let the radio premise of Savage Rose’s Titus Andronicus fool you into thinking this production is timid. This production delivers some great performances and effects that takes its audience to its furthest limits and then invites them to fill in the truly gory details with the power of imagination.
*If you miss this limited run, recordings of the show will be available on Savagerose.org.
Titus Andronicus: The Radio Play
September 23-24, 2016
Savage Rose Classical Theater Company
1031 Sixth Street
Louisville, KY 40203
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!