Start with the “source material” – Shakespeare’s bloodiest play “Titus Andronicus.” This isn’t really a sequel. Sure Taylor Mac’s script starts by plucking three minor characters from Will’s play to follow as they clean up all the corpses (and they are stacked high in Santo Loquasto’s set). In theory they are here to clean up the dead bodies in preparation for a coronation. In reality it gives the playwright a chance to ruminate on what comes next as the “maids” set everything right.
Those maids are some of the most talented stage performers of our day: Nathan Lane, Kristine Nielsen, and Julie White. As they pick their ways through the puppet style bodies and body parts they reflect on how they got here and the better world they want to make. There are plenty of bawdy body jokes as they go about their work and lots of funny theatrics. Kristin Nielsen is especially fierce and compelling. Mr. Mac’s script whirls and eddies on whimsical wings and then settles in for prescriptive changes and then wanders off again for a bit. It is a riveting if uneven route.
Director George C. Wolfe does his best to guide the mayhem but it is a lost cause as the unfettered script leaves little other choice than a wild ride. One wonders if a pre-Broadway try-out might have given it more structure but then it wouldn’t have likely stripped the crazy path it takes. It was a fascinating but discombobulated experience to watch.
It seemed as if Producer Scott Rudin knew that any taming would strip this work of its wonder and hurried it to the Main Stem intact with the best creative staff he could find, knowing that a limited run just might work. Unfortunately Broadway economics couldn’t sustain it and it will be closing early this Sunday. Run to see this as you will never see something this creative and crazy on Broadway again.
#ATOBTTR update: Ah, my dear Cincinnati Reds, even though you only split the Indians series you made progress as the failing Pirates slipped below you so that you are no longer in the cellar in your division (hey, you only spent 58 days there, but who’s counting). Next step: get a winning record, which is kinda required to make the playoffs, don’t you think? You can do this, pick up your game during the coming Texas trip. We’re rooting for you. Go Reds!