Photo by Grettel Cortes

Ellen Dostal – BroadwayWorld

TITUS ANDRONICUS is one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedies. Characters are stabbed, beheaded, mutilated, raped, baked in a pie, and one is even buried up to his neck and left to die. At first glance it may not sound like an obvious choice for families who attend the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival, and it definitely isn’t one for “the youngest audience members” as the website says.

But the play’s extreme violence does present a unique opportunity for parents to talk to their teens about revenge and the futility of starting down its destructive path. That is always a worthy conversation and if Shakespeare can provide an opening for understanding the dark side of human behavior then all the better.

To their credit, one of the things Independent Shakespeare Co. and its co-founders Melissa Chalsma and David Melville do extremely well is make Shakespeare approachable. Though the story is horrific, it also contains a surprising amount of humor, and they play that humor up in their signature style, staging scenes that spill off the stage and adding a contemporary sensibility that never fails to engage its diverse and all-encompassing audience. With its sobering message and a handful of excellent performances among a capable cast, ISC’s provocative TITUS is making a big impression.
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Now running through September 1