Titus Andronicus at the New American Shakespeare Tavern

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Atlanta's New American Shakespeare TavernDoes the stress of cooking for the holiday season ever get to be too much for you? Does the pressure of trying to please all of your friends and loved ones ever get to be more frustrating than rewarding? This holiday season, would stories that include filicide, cannibalism, and murder be more up your alley than parades, turkeys, and bargain shopping? Then the New American Shakespeare Tavern has the perfect show to satisfy your demented holiday spirit.

Shakespeare’s first, and most bloody, tragedy Titus Andronicus tells the violent story of a celebrated Roman general’s cycle of revenge with the captured Queen of the Goths. The manipulative destruction of Titus Andronicus (played by Maurice Ralston) and Tamora (Agnes Harty) grows to include the family of the recently-deceased Roman emperor and the entire Andornici clan.

After a successful decade-long campaign against the Goths, that resulted in Titus sacrificing Tamora’s eldest son to the gods, the Roman people select Titus as their next emperor, infuriating the sons of the previous emperor, Saturninus (J.C. Long) and Bassianus (Jeffrey Stephenson). Titus declines the throne and offers his daughter Lavinia (Jennifer Alice Acker) to the new emperor, Saturninus, despite her impending nuptials to Bassianus. The ensuing chaos leads to rape, mutilation, suicide, and a pie that you are unlikely to serve to your guests this Thanksgiving.

Not the traditional holiday fare, the Tavern warns, “With more than a dozen violent deaths, this play contains a lot of blood, gore and adult themes. We recommend leaving the kids and the faint of heart at home.”

Even if the content of their current show isn’t the most uplifting, the Atlanta theater community should be very thankful for the Tavern. After 26 years, the Tavern became the first American company, and only the third in history, to perform all of the plays currently ascribed to Shakespeare; following London’s Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare’s original company. The Tavern is currently just over a year into their multi-year Shakespeare Evolution Series, which will present all of Shakespeare’s plays, by genre, in chronological order. Titus Andronicus marks the beginning of the tragedy portion of the series.

The New American Shakespeare Tavern production of Titus Andronicus runs through November 25, 2012 with tickets ranging from $15-$36. To purchase tickets call or email The Tavern Box Office at 404-874-5299 or boxoffice@shakespearetavern.com” or visit their website. The Tavern is located at 499 Peachtree Street, NE, just four blocks south of The Fox Theater and directly across the street from Emory University Hospital Midtown.

– Matt Tamanini