Faction of Fools Theatre Company unveils comedic take on “Titus Andronicus”

The Gilbert C. Eastman theater at Gallaudet University presented the opening night of William Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” on May 30. Faction of Fools Theatre Company adapted Shakespeare’s original play “Titus Andronicus” in a way that twisted the gruesome, murderous lines of the script into a straight-up crude comedy. The play is still as tragic as Shakespeare had written it to be, yet with everyone in the audience smiling and giggling as they gleefully make their way past the dark, blood-soaked stage.

“Be careful if you choose to sit in the front. We’ve been advised to warn audience members that there is a chance they will be spurted with blood,” the man handing out playbills warned before the show began.

Horrific and hilarious come together when a few prisoners of Rome seduce the new leaders, and revenge becomes the shade of red that covers the entirely white stage setup. A loyal general, a clueless emperor, an evil empress, an innocent daughter and many more characters make up a perfect recipe for a Renaissance horror story, something Matthew Wilson, founding artistic director of the play, calls a sixteenth-century version of “Saw” or “Hostel.”

The actors combine the complicated script of Shakespeare with over-the-top slapstick comedy. Body parts go missing as often and as offhandedly as the empress’s affairs with her black moor, while Murder and Rape transform into dimwitted characters themselves.

In addition to the play’s hilarious acting, Faction of Fools adds another layer to the audience’s understanding of Shakespeare’s original play by casting two deaf players. A teleprompter is available to the audience, but the players did so well at their roles that comedy was not hindered by any lack of voice or understanding. The players had fun with these slight changes in the play, creating even more puns and using vigorous action. The characters used motion as if it were more important than the words themselves, and by doing so it was hard to peel your eyes away from the show.

If you find yourself craving a good performance before the end of June hits, this play is worth the potential trip to the drycleaner. Just remember to be wary of the front row.

_“Titus Andronicus” is playing at the Gilbert C. Eastman Studio Theatre from May 29 to June 22. Tickets are $15 with a student ID.

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