It may be Shakespeare, but “Titus Andronicus” features no star-crossed lovers or thoughts on the long-standing dilemma of being or not being.The play opens tonight at the University of Idaho and we talked to director Matthew Brumlow to find out about the violent and lesser-known classic.
Why you might be familiar with the play:
Brumlow: It’s one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays … and it was the most popular play at that time in terms of commercial success.
Why you’ve probably never seen it:
Brumlow: It’s Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most brutal play. It wasn’t done for many years because people thought it was sensational, unrealistic or too gruesome. It’s being done a lot more now because people are realizing that the world actually is this brutal.
On Elizabethan theatrical trends and violence:
Brumlow: There was a popular form of theater called revenge tragedy. All of these followed a certain form, including the violence. People loved them because they were outrageous. A young Shakespeare who wanted to make a splash, and also pay the bills, says, ‘I’m going to write a revenge tragedy that outdoes all the other revenge tragedies. I’m going to turn it up to 11.”
Current examples of a revenge tragedy:
Brumlow: “Kill Bill” is a good example. You’ve got one character who is like, ‘I’m going to get them all back.”
But you say this is about more than just revenge?
Brumlow: Shakespeare didn’t stop there, he started to explore the human condition — why do people pursue vengeance and what is the cost to that?
Why you might want to see it:
Brumlow: This play puts up a rather blunt mirror and asks us to look at things we really don’t want to look at. I see that if I’m honest with myself, I’m not too different from these people.
Yeah … but Shakespeare?
Brumlow: It’s hard to make Shakespeare make sense sometimes. But it’s the language of the soul in a lot of ways. Of all his plays, this one’s not boring. It’s gritty, real, raw, juicy. I think people will be surprised.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: “Titus Andronicus”
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. today, Friday, Saturday and Feb. 9-11, 2 p.m. Sunday and Feb. 12
WHERE: Hartung Theater, University of Idaho, Moscow
COST: $15/general admission, $10/seniors, UI faculty and staff, free for UI students; tickets available at the door or in advance at BookPeople or at (208) 885-6465
NOTE: This show contains violence, adult language and situations and is not recommended for children.