In the 16th century, revenge plays were all the rage. Audiences enjoyed the violence, plotting and planning, and one of the bloodiest works of the era was Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus.” It was actually deemed too violent during the Victorian Era before its popularity bounced back during the middle of the 20th century. 

This weekend, Lansing Community College Theatre Department brings the graphic work to the stage, but don’t expect to see any “Saw”- or “Kill Bill”-level blood flying across the stage. The meaning behind the words, however, should hit home with audiences.

“Titus’ emotions and his mental state on his return home from war is something that’s relevant today,” said director Paige Dunckel. The story focuses on Titus, who has been off fighting for the last 10 years and returns home with his prisoners of war, including Tamora, the Queen of the Goths. After a group discussion, the cast agreed that Titus had what would be described today as a severe case of PTSD.

“We’re saying he brings home his experience in war and every horror that he saw,” Dunckel said. “But he makes bad choices at the beginning, which cause a downward spiral in his life. It’s tragic.”

What ensues is a war of revenge between Titus and Tamora, filled with plans and devious behavior from all involved.

“It’s not gory, it’s not gross, but it is striking,” Dunckel said. 

Dunckel’s show has taken many aspects that aren’t usually seen, such as a violent rape and mutilation scene, and found a way to show it without turning it into torture porn. Much of the violence will be seen through chorography created by Roberta Otten, giving it somewhat of an abstract representation without weapons. The action is transformed into a dance to show the struggle of what happened without making it lewd.

“The whole idea is to point out the violence that Titus’ choice creates,” Dunckel said.

“Titus Andronicus”
Lansing Community College Theatre
Dec. 7-9
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p .m. Sunday
LCC Black Box Theatre, 168 Gannon Bldg.
$10 adults/$5 students, seniors, LCC staff & alumni
(517) 483-1546