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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Imperfect Fun in Carte Blanche's 'Titus Andronicus'

Theater Review

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A ragged yet beautiful constellation of passion and imperfection, Carte Blanche Studios' Titus Andronicus offers the perfect start to summer theater in Milwaukee. The play itself, arguably one of Shakespeare's least-accomplished pieces, treads a razor's edge between absurdly poetic and merely absurd. Director Jimmy Dragolovich takes all the disparate elements of a flawed revenge tale and cleverly brings together the imperfections in Carte Blanche's intimate studio space.

Kelly Doherty's costuming touches on a number of styles, including ancient Rome and contemporary business attire. One hero wears combat boots, a tie, a pinstripe shirt and the arm and shoulder of a suit jacket. When he dies, his blood smells of sweet shampoo.

The set is cut of heavy wood and the stage swords have weight and balance to them. There's a sense of real aggression in this play.

The ensemble is a patchwork of talent. While it doesn't always mesh, there are some truly beautiful moments. Frank Burke is a weary Titus, a man who has seen too much. Laura Holterman makes a deft appearance as Goth Queen Tamora, disguised as Revenge itself. Andrew Parchman gives the most memorable performance, in the role of the Moor Aaron. Parchman has a commanding stage presence—when he speaks, the rest of the theater melts around him. Aaron is dull for a Shakespearean villain, but Parchman manages to make him the most likable character in the production.

Titus Andronicus
runs through June 19 at Carte Blanche Studios, 1024 S. Fifth St. To reserve tickets, call 262-716-4689.
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