Alas, ‘Titus Andronicus’ takes the stage at CPP

For its 15th season, the Southern California Shakespeare Festival, a theatre company in collaboration with CPP students, presents “Titus Andronicus,” Shakespeare’s bloody revenge tragedy directed by Robert Shields, Alma Becerra and artistic director Linda Bisesti.

The show was located in the Cal Poly Pomona Studio Theatre, making the intensity of the scenes jump in the viewers’ face.

The show immediately began with scenes of street violence displayed on three large screens in front of the entire crowd, representing the corruption in Rome in the 1500s. An evolving concept that, according to the director, is compared to today.

“The timelessness of Shakespeare’s work can be attributed to his unique ability to hold the mirror up to our humanity,” wrote Shields in his letter from the director.

Titus played by Matthew Reidy (left) and Clown played by Jena Franco (right) scheming during ‘Titus Andronicus.’ (Courtesy of Chris Bashaw)

This being one of the plays Shakespeare is least known for, it certainly leaves a lasting impression when done correctly.

The play also contains several murders, rape, gun shots and lots of blood.

It is anger and cruelty with a fine cast that keeps one on one’s toes.

Just about every scene had some kind of violent act. As I looked around the crowd, there were mouths dropped and discomfort from how impressively real everything seemed.

Titus, played by Matthew Reidy, was loud and bold, as a general should be. Tamora, played by Andrea Lopez, was so deceiving in her maneuvers and eloquent in her words.

However, I must say, I was most impressed by the character of Lavinia, played by Sofia Levi.

It is said that Lavinia could be compared to Rome throughout the play. With everything that is done to her, including the murder of her beloved and being raped and severed, she is challenged with constant battles and slowly falls apart.

The actress portrayed her emotions in such a powerful way it grabs the viewer, making it difficult to look away. She accomplished this merely through body language as she could not speak for the entire second act.

One does not need to be an expert in Shakespeare to follow along with the play. The show is worth watching and is a journey that is still so prevalent today. Maybe Shakespeare had the right idea all along.

Kevin Chang, a Cal Poly Pomona alum, had no idea what to expect from the play. He simply attended to support some friends and was pleased.

“It’s interesting, definitely a lot of bloody scenes,” Chang said. “I just wanted to have an open mind and get a feel for the entire story.”

To sum it up in one statement, it was incredibly entertaining. The actors made direct eye contact and just before you think you can daze off, something happens to grab you all over again.

The show will be performed for one more weekend in the University Studio Theatre on Friday, Sep. 6 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Sep. 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sep. 8 at 2 p.m.

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