The vibrant glow cast on the stage by lighting designer Donna Ruzika set the mood as the sun went down, accentuating the velveteen textures of the new red paint as the evening’s bloody story unfolded.
The decadent set, lined with thick, heavy drapery, easily transformed through each scene as the play moved forward from one act to the next, stringing the audience along on the edge of their seats waiting for what would come next.
As with many of Shakespeare’s plays, the unfortunate events that unravel throughout the duration of the play seem to almost spin out of control leaving the protagonist Titus Andronicus (Dan Kremer) helpless to stop them.
Having captured the queen of the Goths, Tamora (Jacqueline Antaramian), and her three sons, Titus brings them back to Rome to present them to the aging emperor as proof of his conquests and loyalty to his people.
Though the queen pleads for the lives of her sons, her cries fall on deaf ears, and the eldest of them is offered as a sacrifice to the Roman gods. Saturninus (John G. Preston), son of the aging emperor is gifted the throne by his father at the recommendation of Titus, and promptly frees the queen and her two remaining sons as a show of good faith to the people.
As the plot begins to thicken, it quickly twists when the new emperor takes Tamora for as his wife. The new empress of Rome vows to reap a brutal revenge on the Roman general Titus, who had torn her life apart, destroyed her kingdom, claimed it for Rome and murdered her son.
Finding that her two sons have taken a liking to Levinia (Melisa Pereyra), the daughter of her enemy, Tamora offers them a chance to take advantage of her until each son is satisfied as long as they make sure she can never tell. They cut out her tongue, and cut off her hands, so that she cannot speak nor write their names, then leave her to contend with the elements.
The tattered and broken young Levinia is found by her uncle and presented to her father, who seeks to avenge the abduction of his young daughter’s innocence by baking the butchers into a pie and feeding them to their mother at dinner.
The quick-moving play races through from one tragedy to the next, leaving the audience thrown about as though an unexpected tornado had ripped through the theatre in the few short hours Titus Andronicus unfolds.
More information and tickets about Titus Andronicus and other Utah Shakespeare Festival plays can be found at www.bard.org.