CORVALLIS - A rarely produced, early Shakespearean play about mayhem and murder - considered to be the bard's first tragedy - will open at Oregon State University on Jan. 29.
"Titus Andronicus," a classic tale of bloody revenge, is the second in a series of four Shakespearean productions offered this year by OSU's University Theatre. From the first moment of the play, the "revenge machine" is set in motion.
Drawing from sources in Greek tragedy, "Titus Andronicus" follows the title character's quest for revenge following the murder and torment of his children. The play foreshadows both "King Lear" and "Hamlet," especially when Titus feigns madness as he spins his plot of revenge.
Heading up the cast in the title role is Steve Massott, the assistant director of Admissions and Orientation at OSU. Other roles in the Andronicus family include Ray Lischner, as son Lucius; Dave Frank, as son Mutius; Tim Hillman, as son Martius; Adam Goodrich, as son Quintus; Elizabeth Willis, as daughter Lavinia; OSU professor Robert Iltis, as brother Marcus; and 11-year-old Jacob Iltis, as grandson Young Lucius. Mathew Owen portrays Saturninus, the emperor, and John Gaudette is his brother Bassianus, a rival for the throne.
The Goths include Julia Landa, as Queen Tamora; Nick Levine, as Chiron; and Aaron Manly, as Demetrius. Scott Palmer, the student advocate for Associated Students of OSU, portrays Aaron the Moor, Tamora's manipulative lover.
Charlotte Headrick will direct the play. Richard George, an OSU theater arts faculty member, has designed a set that will be used in the next three Shakespearean productions. The Elizabethan stage was inspired by the Oregon Shakespearean Festival in Ashland, the newly designed Globe Theatre in London, and George's own ideas.
William Earl designed the Byzantine costumes for the play, which pits the Romans against the "barbaric Goths," said Headrick, who also directed the last revenge drama at OSU - 1990's "'Tis Pity She's a Whore."
"Titus Andronicus" will be presented Jan. 29-31 and Feb. 5-7 at the Withycombe Hall Theatre, 30th Street and Campus Way. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. A narrative description for visually impaired patrons, and signed performances for the hearing impaired, will be offered during the Friday, Feb. 6, performance. Tickets are available beginning Jan. 26 by calling the OSU box office, 541-737-2784.