Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Titus Andronicus
Synetic Theater
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of Girlfriend

Alex Mills, Irina Tsikurishvili, Irina Kavsadze,
and Dallas Tolentino

Photo by Brittany Diliberto
William Shakespeare's first play, Titus Andronicus, is a bloody revenge tragedy that may be off-putting to contemporary audiences. As the latest production in Synetic Theater's "Silent Shakespeare" series, however, it's eerily beautiful and fascinating to experience, with an overwhelming sense of poetic brutality enhanced by Thomas Sowers' eerie sound design.

Director Paata Tsikurishvili and choreographer Irina Tsikurishvili, who also plays the vicious (if, at times, justified) Tamora, Queen of the Goths, have given the 95-minute production a feverish look and pace on Phil Chartwood's seemingly subterranean scenic design with Brian S. Allard's beams of light visible through haze. The major pieces of scenery are several large rectangular boxes, which can suggest battlements or coffins, and washes of red light symbolize the frequent flow of blood.

Shakespeare set his story in a fictionalized Roman Empire, but the lure of people to destroy each other is timeless. Titus (Philip Fletcher, commanding and ultimately tortured), leader of the Roman troops battling the Goths, captures Tamora, her three remaining sons, and her confidant and secret lover, Aaron the Moor (Audrey Tchoukoua), after witnessing Tamora killing one of his own sons. He reciprocates for his son's death by sacrificing the oldest of Tamora's remaining sons to the Roman gods in thanks for his victory. Matters progress from there.

The Tsikurishvilis understand how to make stage images that resonate, including the contrast of Tamora, in sparkling red and black, and Titus' daughter Lavinia (Irina Kavsadze), in gauzy white (Erik Teague has designed the costumes, some of which border on expressionistic); the battle for power between the two sons of the dead emperor, aggrieved Saturninus (Dan Istrate) and headstrong Bassianus (Scott Whalen); Tamora's feral sons Demetrius (Dallas Tolentino) and Chiron (Alex Mills), smeared with dark makeup to suggest masks and dressed in the manner of contemporary "Goths"; Aaron, majestic yet agile; and Titus' sister Marcia (Tori Bertocci), Marcus in the original play, who provides maternal warmth along with gravity.

Synetic Theater
Titus Andronicus
April 25th - May 27th, 2018
Adapted by Emily Whitworth from the play by William Shakespeare
Titus Andronicus: Philip Fletcher
Tamora, Queen of the Goths: Irina Tsikurishvili
Lavinia: Irina Kavsadze
Aaron: Audrey Tchoukoua
Demetrius: Dallas Tolentino
Chiron: Alex Mills
Saturninus: Dan Istrate
Marcia: Tori Bertocci
Lucius: Chris Galindo
Bassianus: Scott Whelan
Alarbus/Ensemble: Scott Turner
Quintus/Ensemble Matt Stover
Ensemble: Suzy Alden, Megan Khaziran, Nutsa Tediashvili
Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili Choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili
1800 S. Bell St.
Arlington, VA 22202
Ticket Information: 866-811-4111 or