Battling the obstacles of COVID-19, Burning Coal Theatre Company’s conservatory students put their own twist on the rather violent Shakespearean play, Titus Andronicus.
William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus is gory and revenge-filled. Roman conqueror, Titus Andronicus, returns home from the war with the Goths. After Titus murders the Goth Queen Tamora’s eldest son in ritual, she is filled with a thirst for revenge.
The first thing the audience sees when this Burning Coal Theatre production starts is the dark and eerie lighting. This most certainly sets the tone for the whole show as it contains murder, rape, and a whole lot of blood.
While the audience watched from home through screens, the young actors physically performed together at the theater whilst wearing color-coded face coverings. Romans wore blue face coverings. Goths wore yellow. Not only was this a creative way to incorporate COVID precautions into the show and keep the performers at Burning Coal Theatre safe, but it was also extremely helpful for the audience to help decipher who was who.
While there were some plus sides to the masks, there were also quite a few negatives, the biggest one being the sound. Muffled through masks, some of the Shakespearean language was sometimes extremely difficult to understand.
While all of the performers did an outstanding job, but Braxton DeLauro as Titus Andronicus, and Kaylee Bergeron, as Tamora, stood out in this production. Their incredible ability to show emotion through their eyes and voice, without even needing to see their full face, was impressive. Although both of their characters truly were deplorable, DeLauro and Bergeron somehow found ways to still engage the audience.
Even though this show was performed by young actors, Titus Andronicus may not be a suitable play for younger children. In the words of Shakespedia [Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust], “This is not a happy play.”
Titus Andronicus ran for two performances and closed August 1st. Next up, Burning Coal Theatre takes part in The 19th Amendment Project. For more information visit https://burningcoal.org/the-nineteenth-amendment-project/.