'Titus X': Completely Bloody Insane
I decided to begin my Fringe journey this year at "Titus X," a rousingly deranged piece of entertainment that answers the question: What gruesome classical play would be voted least likely to make it as a musical?
Yes, this is a punk-rock version (by Shawn Northrip) of Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" -- you know, the dainty tragedy in which young Lavinia has her tongue cut out and hands chopped off, and Titus serves up his adversaries for dinner, a la Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in "Sweeney Todd."
Lavinia's tongue must have been set firmly in her cheek before it got sliced off, though. The show is a punk parody with an eardrum-piercing band and a fixation on the f-word. There are funny facets to the mayhem, especially when Northrip and director Shirley Serotsky send up Shakespeare and musical theater conventions at once.
I first saw this show in 2003 at Source theater, when it was called "Titus! the Musical." It's more deftly performed now; the jokes play better (I still love it when Lavinia, satisfyingly portrayed by Anne Marie Dalton, croons sans tongue. It goes something like this: "Oooo, aaaaah, ooooo, aaaaaah.") The rest of the cast -- Kevin Duffin, Cesar A. Guadamuz, Andrew Honeycutt, Emily Webbe, little Beckett Martin and, especially, Jason Stiles, reprising his assured turn as Titus -- are swell.
It does go on a mite too long (or maybe my taste for punk is underdeveloped), but it does answer the question. Yes, "Titus X" makes "Sweeney Todd" seem like "The Sound of Music."
-- Peter Marks