Puppet Titus Andronicus. Beckett Theatre (at Theatre Row) (see Off Broadway). By William Shakespeare and the Puppet Shakespeare Players. Directed by Ryan Rinkel. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 45mins. One intermission.
Puppet Titus Andronicus: In brief
The Puppet Shakespeare Players perform an irreverent version of the Bard's maximally violent tragedy, bringing out the dark comedy in this tale of eye-for-an-eye and kids-for-a-meal brutality. Ryan Rinkel directs.
Puppet Titus Andronicus: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Puppet Titus sounds like some kind of disease, and a few sick minds are clearly involved in this prankish adaptation of Shakespeare’s notorious horror play. Ten young actors, including seven Avenue Q–ish puppeteers, give revenge tragedy a collegiate-stoner comic spin, with Adam Weppler’s Titus playing straight man to the antics of the others. It doesn’t take much to tip the source material’s hurly-burly of murder, mutilation, adultery, rape and human-meat pastry into absurdity; often, the text needs no changing at all. (Chiron: “Thou hast undone our mother!” Aaron: “Villain, I have done thy mother!”)
As a puppeteer says in one of many irreverent asides: “Can you believe Shakespeare wrote that crap?” The actors are appealingly artless—shout-out to Shane Snider’s skeezy Chiron—and some of this Titus is really pretty funny, in a goofy garage-theater way. The most outrageous thing about it, alas, is the $50 price. The show makes you want to get baked with these kids, but the cost makes you want to see them baked into pies.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE Munchies-level comedy at haute cuisine prices.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam