In the age of doing Manila runs of foreign plays versus doing the more creative task of adapting these for local audiences, Dulaang UP’s Titus Andronicus: Tinarantadong Asintado can only be valuable. Directed by Tuxqs Rutaquio and adapted into Filipino by Layeta Bucoy, what’s remarkable about this work is that it does justice to the Shakespeare original while delivering a contemporary narrative that by all counts is a success.
The moment pop/street music filled the theater, the moment the clown (Nicco Manalo) established his role as both symbol of death and life, in those first few minutes Tinarantadong Asintado grabbed me by the throat. Yes, it’s as violent and visceral as it sounds. This might have been an absurd tragedy set in the end of the Roman Empire, in the original that had at its core a cycle of revenge, but in this adaptation the absurd is so bloody real – and that’s no bloody exaggeration. When we say truth is stranger than fiction, we must have the Philippines in mind; in Tinarantadong Asintado the fictional takes that truth and runs away with it.