Last week your PopCulteer took The Cardinal Amtrak Line to Chicago for a quick theatre trip with his wife. Our main purpose for the trip was to see the Steppenwolf production of Bug, which I will write about in a bit.
However, we added a second night of theatre to the trip, purely by dumb luck. Melanie is currently in rehearsals for a local production of William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, and I discovered that a company in Chicago was mounting their own production of Titus, so we decided to go see it so we could take in a different interpretation.
We have great luck when it comes to Chicago theater.
This production of Titus is the work of Haven Chicago, and took place at The Den Theater in Wicker Park. We were mightily impressed by both.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, which is considered Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedy, it tells the story of a fictional general in ancient Rome, Titus Andronicus, who conquers the Goths and brings their queen, Tamora, and her sons to Rome in chains as tribute to the new Emperor.
This is a story of stupid pride, foolish decisions, bloody revenge and the horrible outcome of war, vengeance and pettiness. It’s part soap opera, part political thriller and part grindhouse exploitation.
Directed by Haven’s Artistic Director Ian Damont Martin, Titus keeps most of the original text intact, but presents a newer take on the story. All the Roman roles are cast with Black actors, all the Goths and one Moor are White. Haven is a racially and ethnically diverse theatre troupe, but foremost they are a remarkably talented group of artists who have proven that they can handle Shakespeare as well as anyone.
PopCult Note: I want to thank Haven and director Ian Damont Martin for being so welcoming and kind to us last week. We lingered a bit after the production and spoke with Ian for a few minutes. As I said above, we were mightily impressed, and intend to keep track of what Haven and The Den will be doing in the future, so we can plan our theatre trips around their upcoming productions. Keep in mind that this production of Titus is not the same as the production that opens here in Charleston Thursday. I’ll tell you all about that one tomorrow.