Sunday, August 03, 2014

Puppet Titus Andronicus

If ever a play merited skewering, it's Shakespeare's messy, pointless bloodbath, Titus Andronicus. The delightful Puppet Shakespeare Players skewer it with great glee, fabulous puppets, silly humor, clever satire, some genuinely moving acting, and lots and lots of Silly String.

The story of Titus Andronicus, a Roman general who has captured Tamara, Queen of the Goths, and blah, blah, blah, it doesn't really matter. Here's what does: Titus's family and Tamara's family are mortal enemies, and they express their animus with the ornate nastiness of a Roman tragedy crossed with a Quentin Tarantino movie, to which Puppet Titus Andronicus adds a large and welcome helping of Looney Tunes.

Puppet Titus plays fast and loose with plot, with is okay with me. It turns the first act into a song, theoretically a great idea, except that it is unintelligible and therefore a wasted opportunity. In most other ways, however, Puppet Titus makes the most of Shakespeare's worst.

The company is excellent, with Mindy Leanse the standout as poor, beleaguered Lavina. She can make you laugh and break your heart pretty much simultaneously. The three non-puppet performers--Adam Weppler as Titus, Sarah Villegas as Tamora, and Christopher Gebauer as Titus' brother--are quite effective. The puppeteers are wonderful: A.J. Coté, Tom Foran, Ross Hamman, Alex Offenkrantz, Shane Snider, and Drew Torkelson. Ryan Rinkel's direction keeps everything bopping along. And the puppets, designed by A.J. Coté, are fantastic.

Your life would be complete if you never saw Titus Andronicus. However, it would be missing something if you never saw Puppet Titus Andronicus.

(first row, press ticket)

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