Yesterday I reviewed a production of William Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus that I saw last week in Chicago. Today I’m telling you about a production of Titus Andronicus that you can see here in Charleston, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

This is the production that my wife is in (as Tamora, Queen of the Goths) so I won’t be posting a review here. That would put a bit of a strain on the old journalistic ethics, but I can tell you about this production in advance. A reminder: Mrs. PopCulteer is Melanie Larch, a Charleston stage veteran who has performed with almost every theatre company in town. You can read an interview with her about this production in Chuck Minsker’s excellent theater blog. Mel, of course, is also the host of Curtain Call, the area’s only show dedicated to musical theater, on our internet radio station, The AIR.

Titus Andronicus is happening at The Bullock Distillery on Charleston’s West Side (AKA “Elk City”) and it’s part of this weekend’s Celtic Calling events, which are happening all over town. Doug Minnerly and his co-director, Liz Swick were tasked with pulling this production together in about six weeks–or half the time usually needed for a preparation of a Shakespeare play.

They’ve assembled quite a cast of local and regional stage veterans and newcomers. In addition to Mrs. PopCulteer, Melanie Larch, Titus Andronicus features Jonathan Maynard, Tim Mace, Jacob Fleck, Liz Swick, Ariana Kincaid, David McBrayer, Dewey Fletcher, Jeff Martin, Mary Ellen Logsdon, Austin Philbin, Char Hewitt, Richard Hollicker and several others.

Celtic Calling has received tremendous support from the Charleston Theatrical Community in Staging Celtic Readers Theatre every year. Many of the Actors who have appeared in The Winning 5 One Act Plays that are performed at the Festival appear in this, an abbreviated production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, largely considered his most violent and tragic play.

The play is the first production by The Titus Project, a new theatre collective coming to Charleston’s West Side. The performance space is Bullock Distillery, at 121 Washington Street West in Charleston, a few doors down from GonzoBurger. The Distillery is not operational yet, but they have graciously lent their building for use in this production and it’s a great way for the city to be introduced to this new business.

Titus Andronicus is Shakespeare’s first tragedy, and it’s his most gory. People who are easily triggered should know that this play contains rape, murder, the chopping off of hands, the cutting out of tongues and just a tiny bit of unwitting cannibalism. The worst of the violence happens offstage, but there’s plenty of blood to go around. It’s the closest Shakespeare ever got to the work of Herschell Gordon Lewis.

The title character, Titus, is a Roman General, triumphantly returning home after conquering the Goths. While he was away, the Emprorer died, and while Titus is offered the crown, he turns it down and endorses the Emporer’s son, Saturninus to take the throne.

This is the first of many mistakes made by key characters in the play.

What follows is a tale of treachery, vengeance and a whirling crescendo of evil schemes and violence that builds to a startling climax. Nobody makes it out of the story unscathed.

Like Shakespeare’s King Lear, Titus is a man who acts foolishly and in service to his pride more than his sense. Unlike Lear, Titus does not have the excuse of dementia to explain his decisions.

To see the story unfold in person, you have three chances this weekend. Thursday night is a special open dress rehearsal. You can pay what you want to attend. Come early at 7:30 PM to hear some acoustic Celtic music from The Scribblers with Douglas John Imbrogno (PopCult’s original editor!) who will perform music of dark and fervid hue. from 7:30 to 8 PM, before this pay-what-you-will, 3/4-round showing starts at 8:00.

Friday and Saturday night tickets are $15 for Adults/$12 Seniors/$10 Students. Showtime is 8:00 PM, and The Scribblers will perform every night at 7 30pm. Tickets can be purchased HERE. For more information, visit the Facebook Event Page.