Radiohead and Lust

After a harrowing experience with the Ticketmaster website, where they timed my every action and threatened to cancel my transaction if I didn’t respond within so many minutes, I succeeded in purchasing my Radiohead tickets. I lost the first pair of tickets that came up because I was too slow in deciding whether I wanted to buy tickets with assigned seats or lawn tickets. When I decided to buy the assigned seat tickets that were offered, the site told me I had missed my chance. It all worked out eventually. And this is quickly becoming a favorite song of mine:

This evening, KV, Spence, and I went to see Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus, which is being performed by students of the university’s theatre department. I’ve not read this play, but was warned that it’s rather over-the-top. The play certainly lived up to this warning, but I enjoyed it. I was rather impressed with the lead players too. Not that I know anything about acting, but I was drawn into the characters they were portraying, with one glaring exception: the roles of Demetrius and Chiron. Now, there were many moments throughout the play when I assumed the (dark) humor was intentional. For example, when a messenger rides in on her bicycle to deliver to Titus the heads of two of his sons (wrapped in plastic), as well as his hand he had just cut off in hopes of saving his sons, there is a certain absurdity to her entrance on the bike, to the way she flings the heads on the stage (as if she were delivering newspapers), and the way she addresses Titus. However, I couldn’t tell if the portrayal of Demetrius and Chiron was unintentionally ridiculous, or if I’m too dense to understand a creative interpretation of these two characters.

In the story, Demetrius and Chiron are the sons of Tamora, and they rape Titus’ daughter, Lavinia. They then cut out her tongue and cut off her hands, so she can’t identify who raped her. This presentation of the play had two actresses portraying Demetrius and Chiron, and it didn’t seem as if there was any effort in disguising the actresses as men. They had rather long hair that was loose, and dark lipstick on. They were dressed all in black, with combat boots and capes, but this didn’t convey maleness or androgeny, for that matter. I was baffled when I learned they were portraying male characters. (This was not the case with the actress who played Saturninus; she was dressed in a way, and carried herself in a way that I could believe she was the emperor). So, I was unable to get past the very feminine visual of these actresses portraying Demetrius and Chiron. The way the two acted the part was hard for me to buy too. Okay…so we have two young punk brothers lusting after Titus’ daughter. The key word here is lusting. How does one evoke lust in his/her actions? I spent some time thinking about this after watching the actresses portray lust with lots of lurid tongue gestures, panting, and by licking their rapiers in a provocative manner. One, in particular, would strike very Christina Aguilera/Brittany Spears inspired sex-kitten type facial expressions, with lots of tongue…more in the vein of over-sexed nymph than mutilating rapist. But it had to be intentional, right? I mean, if she were acting like this during rehearsal, and it wasn’t what the director wanted her to do, he would have told her so. And they could easily have wrapped up the actresses’ hair, and made the effort to make them more androgynous, if not masculine, but they chose not to. Perhaps I have a narrow perception of how one should portray licentious, mutilating rapists.

After doing a search on the ever handy YouTube, I found this clip from Titus Andronicus, and can say the two actresses I saw today were likely trying to bring across the kind of dramatic energy these guys have in this scene, but it didn’t quite work in my (uneducated) opinion (again, I think if the actresses were more androgynous in their roles, it would have come together better). But, overall, it was an enjoyable (if violent and bloody) dramatic experience.


2 thoughts on “Radiohead and Lust

  1. If I can manage to not go to another FAU play, I think I will. I saw HAMlet a couple of years ago, and it’s still etched into my memory, it was so bad. The acting technique most favored by the young people in this department (with the exception of a couple of my former comp students) seems to be “watch the movie, and then do a bad imitation of it.” And the directorial choices aren’t much better–in the production Amy and I saw, the actors who played Rozencrantz and Guilderstern were the same actors (in only slightly modified costumes) who came onstage at the end to say that Rosencrantz and Guilderstern were dead. It was trés postmodern.

  2. “the actors who played Rozencrantz and Guilderstern were the same actors (in only slightly modified costumes) who came onstage at the end to say that Rosencrantz and Guilderstern were dead. It was trés postmodern.” —–Lol!

    Yes, I did notice that Bassianus, who was killed by Demetrius and Chiron before the rape scene, was resurrected into another character later in the play, with no (discernible) attempt to act differently than he did when he was Bassianus. After watching a few clips of the movie from YouTube, I did think to myself that the actors had to have watched it, with how closely the scenes resembled (attempted to resemble) the movie.

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