“Titus Andronicus” at Theatre of NOTE

Titus Andronicus
Theatre of NOTE



There’s a reason why the Shakespearian tragedy Titus Andronicus isn’t taught at the high school or hell even the college level.  It’s the ultimate tragedy with no humor, or forgiveness or redemption. However, it’s a great look into character study. It makes you look at these characters stripped to the raw and not afraid to show it off.  Titus (Dan Mailley) is the cruelest son-of-a-bitch in the history of Shakespearian villainy. Macbeth, Richard the III and Iago would both be scared and in awe of this man. The play opens up with the emperor of Rome death and his throne is left up to his sons Saturninus and Bassianus. Their childish bickering leaves only one other person: the Emperor’s brother Titus.  Like another obscure Shakespearian character Coriolanus, all Titus eats, breathes, drinks and consumes like a drug is battle and revenge. He returns from fighting a 10-year war against the enemies, the Goths. Duty and honor are what matters to the weary soldier.

He decides to sacrifice the Queen of the Goths Tamora’s (Sarah Lilly) son Alarbus (David Reynolds)  to avenge his son’s death. Tamora pleads but Titus continues with the sacrifice and leaves the poor woman to mourn for her soon to be dead child.  He refuses to be named new emperor and passes that honor to son Saturninus (Brad C. Light). From there, it gets tricky. Lavinia (Erin Fleming) was promised to Bassianus (Kiff Scholl) the younger brother. But as the new leader, Saturninus, wants her.  The only couple sexually involved is Tamora and the Aaron the Moor (Joshua Wolf Coleman)  These two were meant for each other. They are able to plot revenge and murder, whisper it in each other's  ears as if it’s the new aprohrodiasic.  Lavinia is in the middle of this crazy Mason-like family. She is ambushed by Tamora’s sons Chiron (Mandi Moss) and Demetrius (Rick Steadman)  who go off to rape the maiden. In the process to keep their identity a secret,  the monsters do heinous things to the young girl.

In the meantime, more things go awry in the state of Rome, Aaron has to figure out what to do with his newborn son, courtesy of Tamora, Titus cuts off his hand as a as a sign of good faith to save his  sons Martius and Quintus. Of course it’s another form of deception manipulated by Aaron. And poor Lavinia stumbles around in sadness with no limbs or tongue. Titus uses the madness motif (it worked for Hamlet)to find out what’s going on. His plan works.  Tamora and her boys wholly believe in Titus’ game that they dress up as spirits from the underworld. Tamora is Revenge and her sons Murder and Rape. Titus plays along and ends ups outsmarting his rivals.

Now you can see why this ‘classic’ isn’t a favorite among English professors. However, it does display the lengths people go to in getting what they want. There is no remorse or repentance. As horrific as the story unfolds, it’s still very intriguing to see what makes these people tick and see how far they will go for whatever their individual goal maybe. Shakespeare peels away the layers of his characters until the only thing left is pulp.

Major applause goes to Dan Mailley as Titus Andronicus and Joshua Wolf Coleman as Aaron the Moor. Mailley is magnificent as the aging , loyal soldier. His head still remains in the battle ground whereas everyone else, including Aaron the Moor, is intently focused on the battle ground of survival.

Titus’ values haven’t changed since he went away and assumes everyone else is the same. That’s a big no. Aaron is walking encyclopedia of dishonesty and savors each moment like a delectable dinner. Even when he’s caught he smugly says before being taken away  “If one good Deed in all my life I did/I do repent if from my very Soule.” You can’t get anymore colder than that last remark. Coleman is spectacular portraying the heartless villain. He does so with charm, eloquence, a devilish smile and a wink of the eye, making it look so sexy it’s hard to ignore.

Mailley is far away from his role flamboyant character Valere in “La Bête” a French farce written by  American playwright David Hirson. This time around, he was more subdued one minute and enraged the next but most importantly a loving father toward his Lavinia.

There is nothing so appealing and somewhat dynamic than viewing what it would be like to have evil rule the world for just a little while. Eventually, what starts in disorder turns into order as good eventually prevails. But in the meantime, Titus Andronicus is passionate and audacious . Mailley, Coleman and the cast do an excellent job in conveying the conflicting messages giving both sides viable points.

Titus Andronicus runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. until Saturday March 13th  at the Theatre of NOTE  located at1517 N. Cahuenga (just north of Sunset)Tickets are $22, $18 for seniors and students and available by calling 323-856-8611 or online at www.theatreofnote.com