Saturday I went back to LA and got lunch at Sage before camping out at a coffee shop and killing time before Independent Shakespeare’s production of Titus Andronicus. I had originally wanted to visit the Griffith Observatory as it’s one of my favorite places in LA, but there was some kind of special event happening either at the Observatory or nearby because the traffic leaning up to it was absurd. So I decided to skip it.
Independent Shakespeare performs deep inside Griffith Park. I nearly missed the show because I didn’t allow enough driving time from the perimeter of the park to where they performed. I didn’t quite grasp from my previous visits quite how big Griffith Park is. But I made it, just in time and set up my blanket right in front of the stage.
I love shows that encourage audience participation and where the actors get in the audience’s faces. If I’m not interacting with the actors, I might as well be watching a movie. This show really played up the audience interaction. Before the show started, Bassanius and Saturninus went out in the crowd and started campaigning, inviting us to cheer for their respective speeches and to support them in their claim to the Roman throne. When the show started, the crowd was divided in half, with one side cheering in support of Satuninus, and the other half Bassanius.
This trend continued with lots of ad-libs and audience interaction, like Aaron the Moor’s “He that had wit would think that I had none, to bury so much gold…behind a reusable Ralph’s grocery bag” as he hid the chest of gold that will be used to frame Titus’ sons behind an audience member’s grocery bag.
The majority of the show was played with irreverence, with the exception of Lavinia’s rape and mutilation, which stood out against the rest of the show as traumatic and awful. The show ran a little long in the second act, but overall was lively and engaging. Aaron the Moor and Lavinia really stole the show for me.
I was sad to see the show end, because it meant the end of the trip. After hanging around for a few minutes chatting with the actors, I started the drive home.