Empty Chair Theatre: Titus Andronicus Review

Anyone who’s ever visited this web site knows that  I love seeing Shakespeare live. From the huge lavish productions of the Shakespeare Theatre Company,  to well – The Empty Chair Theatre of Alexandria, who’s budget is far exceeded by their talent.

Well’ I had the pleasure this weekend to see Empty Chair perform Titus Andronicus to a packed house at the Folgers Theater in Washington DC. Mind you, this is the same company I saw last month perform Twelfth Night  to an audience of 10 people, and their production  was one of the funnest, and most energetic versions I had ever seen.  So it was a great thrill to see them perform a benefit production of Titus at the Folgers.

Choosing to do Titus is always chancy. Being one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, you get the feeling he was out to make a name for himself. On stage there is 1 rape, multiple hands chopped off, 1 tongue ripped out, and various other hangings, butcheries, and other bits of nasty. As most people put it, it is Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. And to Empty Chairs great credit, they did not pull any punches, and the blood did flow.

Without going into the plot of the play, I just want say Empty Chair did a fantastic job. Keeping in mind that most of these actors are between the ages of 20 and 25, they found a strong lead in Danny Cackeley as Titus, who easily portrayed the the authority needed.  A graying and stately Marcus Andronicus was played by Jay Myers whom I would never have guessed was as young as he really is (I guess that’s why they call it acting).

Then there’s Lavinia, played by Amalia Camperlengo. Now I had seen this play several times before, and knew what was going to happen to Lavina. At first I thought Amaliea was playing Lavina to understated, but this might be me being a little jaded from seeing the play so many times.  But once the tragedy took place, there was a complete,  total, and absolute transformation in Amaliea. The Lavina from the beginning of the play was gone, and was replaced by a Lavina full of heartbreak, terror, and angst. She was chilling.

If it wasn’t getting so late, I would gladly go on about the rest of the company, but I think you get the idea. My wife and I really enjoyed seeing Empty Chair do Titus Andronicus (As much as we enjoyed their Twelfth Night), and I really hope you get a chance to see them soon.

Link: http://emptychairtheatre.org

Titus Andronicus

Directed by Julia Sears
July 14th, 15th, 21th-23th, 28th-30th 
Theater on the Run Black Box
(3700 Four Mile Run, Arlington, VA 22206)

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