Titus Andronicus Has Blood on Its Hands. A Lot of It.

The Public Theater mounts Shakespeare at his goriest

As Titus, Sanders, muted at first, has trouble establishing the initial image of a grimly patriotic super-soldier willing to kill his own son rather than be dishonored in the Capitol. But once things go wrong, his performance gets brilliantly right—finding the near-Beckettian bleak humor while also preserving Titus’s maddened grief. His strange aspirated sigh, ceding into helpless mordant laughter, as he realizes that he simply has no more tears to shed is one of many unexpected felicities. Sanders convincingly shows us a career murderer rubbed so raw by circumstance he hesitates to smoosh a fly—while still being capable of baking cannibal cake to complete the score-settling.

You don't want his pie on your Christmas dinner table: Jay O. Sanders and Jennifer Ikeda
Joan Marcus
You don't want his pie on your Christmas dinner table: Jay O. Sanders and Jennifer Ikeda

Details

Titus Andronicus
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Michael Sexton
The Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street
212-967-7555, publictheater.org

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Late in the play, Sexton covers ruined Lavinia’s face with an eerie avian mask, absorbing her back into the Ovidian myth—of a violated princess mercifully transformed into a bird—that inspired her terrible fate. The production closes with bright chirping above the human wreckage: On Sexton’s stage revenge really does sing, with its own cruel music.

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