It may be visually bloodless, but director Sue Miner's version of Titus Andronicus vibrates with the heartbeat of Shakespeare's gory tragedy of honour and revenge.
In the open-air setting, children, dogs, overhead planes and the occasional gliding pigeon add to the sights and sounds of the production. Miner streamlines the action and goes for a modern rendition, complete with bike couriers, plastic-tablecloth park picnics and jogging couples. She tells the story clearly, emphasizing the grim -- at times Grand Guignol -- comedy, yet touching the emotions powerfully with episodes involving the mutilated Lavinia (a fine, moving Marjorie Chan).
In fact, this ensemble cast is the most solid in recent years for Shakespeare in the Rough.
Richard Alan Campbell is a noble Titus, clearly defining the general's descent into madness -- only some of which is feigned -- as the action piles horror on horror, with other good work from Marvin Kaye as a bullying, neurotic Saturninus, Dinah Watts as the passionate, duplicitous Tamora and the rough-and-tumble team of Jason Jazrawy and Valerie Sing Turner as Tamora's lecherous offspring.
The park vistas have always inspired the company's directors to stage some striking "offstage" tableaux, and here Miner gives us family wedding portraits and black-garbed executioners. This Titus doesn't aim for formal, grand-scale tragedy, but instead plays darkly and humanly with its characters' desire for power, love and vengeance. JK
TITUS ANDRONICUS, by William Shakespeare, directed by Sue Miner, with Richard Alan Campbell, Dinah Watts, Malcolm Xerxes, Marjorie Chan, Marvin Kaye, Michael Valliant-Saunders, Jason Jazrawy, Cheryl McNamara, Sherry Roher, Valerie Sing Turner, Jovanni Sy and Sanjay Talwar. Presented by Shakespeare in the Rough at Withrow Park (south of Danforth, between Logan and Carlaw). Runs to September 4, Friday-Sunday and holiday Mondays at 2 pm, silent-voice performances August 11-13. Pwyc. 410-9677. Rating: NNN