'Titus X': Completely Bloody Insane
I decided to begin my Fringe journey this year at "Titus X," a rousingly deranged piece of entertainment that answers the question: What gruesome classical play would be voted least likely to make it as a musical?
Yes, this is a punk-rock version (by Shawn Northrip) of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" -- you know, the dainty tragedy in which young Lavinia has her tongue cut out and hands chopped off, and Titus serves up his adversaries for dinner, a la Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in "Sweeney Todd."
Lavinia's tongue must have been set firmly in her cheek before it got sliced off, though. The show is a punk parody with an eardrum-piercing band and a fixation on the f-word. There are funny facets to the mayhem, especially when Northrip and director Shirley Serotsky send up Shakespeare and musical theater conventions at once.
I first saw this show in 2003 at Source theater, when it was called "Titus! the Musical." It's more deftly performed now; the jokes play better (I still love it when Lavinia, satisfyingly portrayed by Anne Marie Dalton, croons sans tongue. It goes something like this: "Oooo, aaaaah, ooooo, aaaaaah.") The rest of the cast -- Kevin Duffin, Cesar A. Guadamuz, Andrew Honeycutt, Emily Webbe, little Beckett Martin and, especially, Jason Stiles, reprising his assured turn as Titus -- are swell.
It does go on a mite too long (or maybe my taste for punk is underdeveloped), but it does answer the question. Yes, "Titus X" makes "Sweeney Todd" seem like "The Sound of Music."
-- Peter Marks
This is the first of many short reviews of Fringe Festival plays that Stephanie Merry, Nelson Pressley and I will be posting on the Going Out Gurus blog. We'll post daily after we see shows, so you can find out which ones you should run to get tickets for and which ones are busts.
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