"Eat your heart out" during the last few shows of Titus Andronicus

Attendees will never look at pies the same way

Shakespeare's goriest work will be at the Lyceum Theatre on the Tempe campus for the last time this weekend. 

Student tickets are $8, and the play has both matinee and evening showings — however, you might want to avoid eating right before Titus Andronicus.

Described on MainStage's website as "deliciously grotesque," Titus Andronicus follows a Roman general whose patriotism turns into a graphic, bizarre and poetic cycle of revenge. The show is a streamlined retelling of the Roman revenge play, running about 80 minutes with no intermission instead of the standard 4 hours. 

"It's just like a Game of Thrones episode," said Evan Carson, a theater senior playing the role of Marcus Andronicus. "There's deception, lies, baking people into pies — it's been called a slapstick tragedy. It's tragic and bloody but pretty funny too."

Although Titus was Shakespeare's earliest drama, Carson said the play still resounds politically and will appeal to viewers not only a comedic level, but also rhetorically.

"The main struggle of Titus is us versus them," Carson said. "Unfortunately, this is relevant to the global political and social climate. We're still afraid of what we don't know and who we don't know."

The shorter runtime is not the only unique thing about the production. Kristin Hunt, the director of Titus, has an ongoing project that tasks people to think about food, taste and smell in regards to theater.

Since Titus contains many food themes, Hunt decided to add incorporate an "edible program note" into the production, giving audience members four pieces of modern-day candies that contain ancient Roman flavors to eat as they watch.

"There's not a lot of connection between ancient Rome and now, so by giving the audience members a taste of what Rome was like in regards to food, smell and economy, we hope to help them draw connections between then and now," Hunt said.

Hunt also said she hopes audiences will make connections between the bloody world of Titus and the current political landscape.

“We want to use this play to start a conversation. In most literature, you know which side of the pressing issues author wants you to come down on, but Titus is open," Hunt said. "There are no truly heroic characters, just people struggling with complex issues, like who can belong in a nation. These things are of great relevance right now."

Titus Andronicus follows a Roman general and is typically set in Rome. However, Fargo Tbakhi, a theater sophomore playing Prince Chiron, said MainStage's production of Titus is not a classical production because the play is essentially timeless.

The costumes are simple, and the set is not overtly indicative of any one location. Tbakhi said this allows the audience to draw parallels to whatever political climate they're living in. 

"One of the biggest concerns Titus focuses on is political, on how power struggles can happen," he said. "It's a visceral exploration of politics — it's a commentary on how power gets assigned ... who takes it, who has it and who doesn't, and unfortunately that's globally relatable."

Titus's last run is this weekend, Feb. 23-26, with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased here.


Reach the reporter at cagoldin@asu.edu or follow @auruming on Twitter.

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