St. Louis Stage Capsules

Dennis Brown and Paul Friswold suss out the local theater scene

Titus Andronicus Shakespeare's bloody and awkward Titus Andronicus receives a compelling staging from director Robert Strasser and editor Damien Samways, who navigate the plot holes with a clear emphasis on story over logic. As Titus, the old soldier who loves Rome and is repeatedly wronged by the Emperor Saturninus (an excellent Doug Hettich), Robert Mitchell is wild, angry, mad, cunning, cruel, loving and murderous — just as the play demands, and always with the proper measure of intelligence. His late declaration, "I...am the sea," is marrow chilling; Mitchell's confrontation with the abusers of his daughter is presaged by a baleful glance and a slow inhalation that rimes the theater with frost. Alan David's turn as the black-hearted Moor Aaron is similarly bleak; he's vile and malevolent, as twisted by hatred and his lusts as Mitchell's Titus is wracked by grief and rage. The Tin Ceiling's low-budget aesthetic means the many deaths (fourteen, by Strasser's count) are bloodless, but no less grisly for all that. It's the performances that provide the horror here; your imagination takes care of the little details. Through December 21 at the Tin Ceiling Theater, 3159 Cherokee Street. Tickets are $10. Call 314-374-1511 or visit www.tinceiling.org. (PF)

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