“So I should rob my sweet sons of their fee?
No; let them satisfy their lust on thee!”
—Tamora, Queen of the Goths

TITUS ANDRONICUS by William Shakespeare.  Thoroughly abridged and modernized by le Marquis Déjà Dû
This issue’s Classics Digest is thought to be Shakespeare’s first, worst, and by far most gruesome play. The inclusion of incredibly vicious and cruel characters, the excess not only of requisite Shakespearean blood, but of explicit deaths, maimings, moral bankruptcies and other charming atrocities, and the wild, manic mood swings the characters undergo have made it an unwatchable play lo these 400 years. For these reasons, it is seldom performed and discussed. The Reader may think that the Editor has delighted in the play's unsavoury aspects, and augmented their horrors. The Reader would only be half right; thrill in the gore, smut and pain, I have, but if anything, this abridgement is an understatement of the explicit grotesqueries of the original play. To be quite honest, the “Friday the 13th” series has nothing on “Titus Andronicus”.
—le Marquis Déjà Dû

Photos appear by the kind courtesy of Thrillpeddlers acting troupe from their 1997 production of “Mondo Andronicus”.
Tamora & Sons
PERSONÆ DRAMATIQUE:
SATURNINUSSon to the late Emperor of Rome, and afterwards declared Emperor himself. Hotheaded and clueless.
BASSIANUSBrother to Saturninus; in love with Lavinia. A real Chump.
TITUS ANDRONICUSa noble Roman, General against the Goths and prone to fits of extreme emotions.
MARCUS ANDRONICUSTribune of the People; and Brother to Titus, perhaps the only level-headed player on the team.
LUCIUS, QUINTUS,
MARTIUS, MUTIUS
Sons to Titus Andronicus.
YOUNG LUCIUSa Boy, Son to Lucius, who spooks easily.
PUBLIUSSon to Marcus the Tribune, a chip off the ole’ block.
ÆMILIUSa noble Roman with very few lines.
ALARBUS, CHIRON,
DEMETRIUS
Sons to Tamora, and just as nasty.
AARONa black Moor, beloved by Tamora.
TAMORAQueen Bitch of the Goths.
LAVINIADoe-Eyed Daughter to Titus Andronicus, not too bright, but a professional at suffering.
Tamora, Queen of the GothsA Captain, Tribune, Messenger, and an Annoying Clown; Romans.
Goths andRomans and even more Goths.
A doomed Nurse.
Kinsmen of Titus, Senators, Tribunes, Officers, Groupies, Extras, Soldiers, and Attendants.
SCENE, Rome; and the Country near it.

ACT I.

SCENE I. Rome. Before the Capitol.
 The tomb of Andronici, the freshly-slain emperor of Rome, the Tribunes and Senators are assembled like Vultures over a Carcass. Saturninus and his Groupies enter one side, his brother Bassianus and his associated Groupies enter other side.
Saturninus: My father the emperor is dead! Elect me!
Bassianus:My father the emporer is dead! Elect me!
 Enter Marcus Andronicus, younger brother to Titus Andronicus.
Marcus:Here comes my big brother. He’s such a stud. Let him decide!
Saturninus:Great idea, Peanut! Scatter, vile groupies!
Bassianus:I’m game, Scooter. Shoo, flock, shoo!


SCENE II. The same.
 Enter a Captain.
Captain:Here comes da man!
 Trumpets flair, a cheer from the crowd, ticker tape goes streaming – big budget stuff. Enter coffin of emperor, carried by Titus’ four sons, Mutius, Martius, Quintus and Lucius, followed by Titus Andronicus; then Tamora Queen of the Goths and her passel of miserable, defeated sons, Alarbus, Chiron, Demetrius, followed by Aaron the nasty Moor and some random Goths. More Extras file in and mill about aimlessly.
Titus:Hoo! Whatta war, I’m tellin’ ya! Haven’t seen so much blood spilt all week! Isn’t Rome great?
Lucius:Hey dad! Let’s kill another Goth! Can we? Huh? Can we?
Titus:All-righty-oh, son. Take Tamora’s oldest. Remember how I showed you, now.
Tamora:Aw man, you’re mean! Gimme a break! You just slaughtered my entire kingdom.
Titus:This’ll only take a minute.
Tamora: But he’s my baby!
Titus: When in Rome, lady…
Lucius:Let’s rip his arms off! Whee!
Titus:(smiles lovingly, indulgently at his prodigy.)
 Exeunt 4 sons Lucius, Quintus, Martius and Mutius with Tamora’s doomed son, Alarbus.
Chiron:Poor brother Alarbus.
Demetrius:Hey man, better him than us, right?
 Enter 4 sons again, blood on their clothes.
Lucius:Kay. All done. That was fun!
Titus:That’s m’boy. (They high-five.)
 In wafts the glassy-eyed Lavinia, Titus’ daughter, on a cloud of lilac perfume.
Titus:Hi kitten. How’s daddy’s little princess?
Lavinia: Huh? Wha–?
 Reenter Marcus Andronicus, Saturninus, Bassianus and some more aimless Extras.
Marcus: Hey bro. Wow, you look cool in that chain mail.
Titus:Thanks, Tiger.
Marcus:So you have to pick a new emperor. Which of his sons will it be?
Extras in
unison:
Yah! Who’s gonna rule our land? Who’s gonna rock our world? Sh-bop, sh-bop, sh-bop.
Saturninus:Titus Andronicus, I schmooze thee verily, and say many a-flattering, empty remark most heartfelt-like.
Bassianus:Don’t listen to my smarmy brother. And hey, I’d really really appreciate it if you made me emperor. There’s a fiver in it for you, if know what I mean. (winks)
Titus:I pick … (waves finger back and forth between the two) … umm … uhh … let’s see … how ‘bout … Saturninus! (Titus shrugs shoulders and grins sheepishly.)
 Plebeians cheer wildly, in their plebeian way, and throw more ticker tape and confetti and hewn limbs of Goths in jubilation.
Saturninus:Thanks, Titus.
Titus: And as a special door prize for being emperor, you get my lovely daughter Lavinia for your wife, specially-crafted just for you!
Saturninus: Um. All right, I guess. Thanks a million, Titus. You’re the greatest. I’ll never forget how nice you’ve been to me. Ever. Really.
Titus:But wait there’s more! You also get at no extra charge, the defeated and now-sulking Tamora, Queen of the Goths as your special playtime prisoner. If she acts up, kill more of her sons. She hates that. (snickers)
Saturninus:(looking at Tamora starry-eyed) What a beeyootiful lady. Don’t worry Tamora, your sons are safe around me. (Sat. winks) Oh I’m glad you’re my prisoner. We’ll have such fun the two of us. I know some special games we can play. This doesn’t bother you, Lavinia, does it?
Lavinia:(busy picking lint off her gown) Huh? Wha–?
Saturninus:Okay then! Let’s get to rulin’ Rome! Set the spurious prisoners free. The stage is too crowded.
Titus:Ho-ho-ho! Just another jolly-olly-olly day in ole’ Rome. Ho-ho-ho!
 Laughter and merriment and special moments abound. The mood is that of a lighthearted picnic – until…
Bassianus:(to Titus) Excuse me Mr. Andronicus sir, but I think I’d kinda like Lavinia for myself. (He takes her away from his brother Saturninus who is playing footsie with Tamora.)
Titus:The hell you will, muthafucka. Nothing less than an emperor for my little girl!
Martius:Aw c’mon pop. Everyone knows Bassianus and Lavinia have had a thing going on for years. Saturninus couldn’t care less. He’s smitten with Tamora. Look, there he is giggling, applying her thick eyeliner onto his own face and learning how to spooky-dance.
Titus:(red-faced and hopping mad) I don’t care! I want my daughter married to an emperor and that’s that! I always get my way! So nyah!
 Exeunt Martius, Quintus and Lucius with Bassianus and Lavinia.
Mutius:You guys go with Bassianus and Lavinia. I’ll stay here and stop dad from acting up.
Titus:The hell you will, you damn pup!
 Titus runs his sword through his son Mutius.
Mutius:Gack!
 Reenter Lucius.
Lucius:Geez pop, chill! You just killed one of your sons.
Titus:He’s no son of mine, and neither are you if you don’t get Lavinia into Saturninus’ bed pronto!
Lucius:But she and Bassianus are so cute together, doncha think?
Saturninus:Hey, look, I don’t really care one way or another. Lavinia is a bit of an airhead for me. Come to think of it, your sons don’t exactly gleam either. Hmm, must be bad genes.
Titus:Why isn’t everyone being nice to me? Why has everything turned around? What can’t I have my way? I’m unhappy.
Saturninus:Tamora, Queen of the Goths has just taught me how to blow smoke rings with my clove cigarette. I’m making her Queen of Rome. Whad’ya think of that, Tammy-baby?
 Tamora performs fellatio upon Saturninus.
Saturninus:Ooo. Yah. Uhh. Wait. Not here, baby. Let’s go up to my pad. Wanna show you my rock collection.
 Exeunt Tamora and Saturninus. Reenter Marcus, and 3 surviving sons.
Marcus:Brother Titus, you’re a spaz.
Titus:They’re no sons of mine! And you’re no brother of mine! And…and…and, y’all are making me look bad in front of the Extras! You’re no friends of mine!
Lucius:Whatever, ‘dad’. Whelp, I guess we better bury our brother now. Nice goin’.
Titus:Not in this tomb you don’t. This is only for members of my family who are smart enough to kiss my ass! He’s no member of my family!
Quintus:Dad, hold up. You’re being a total prick.
Titus:No way is that sum’bitch gettin’ into my tomb!
Marcus:Okay, boys, staring contest!
 Marcus and the 3 sons stare down Titus until he cracks.
Titus:Oh all right then. I’m so disappointed in you people.
Marcus:Can we change the subject please? So wattup with this Tamora-being-Queen thing? That’s kinda weird.
Titus:Oh, I don’t know, Marcus. I’ve got a headache.
 Reenter the post-coital couple Saturninus and Tamora with sheepish grins, her two surviving sons Chiron and Demetrius, that damned ubiquitous Moor, Aaron, and the lovey-dovey couple Bassianus and Lavinia.
Saturninus:So, my dear brother Bassianus…you like Lavinia, huh?
Bassianus:She’s delicious, thanks for asking.
Saturninus:You damn dirty flesh-thief.
Bassianus:Huh!? What’d I do? You didn’t really want her, did you? It was Titus who was making the big fuss about it all.
Titus:You’re no friend of mine! Saturninus is the only one on stage whom I can even tolerateat the moment. Why I oughta…
Tamora:Damn, Titus, you need some special alone-time in the Harmony Hut. Would you just get over it all? You’re upset about stuff that happened much earlier in the scene.
Titus:You’re no prisoner-suddenly-made-empress of mine!
Tamora:Shhh. Calm down. I know you’re a good guy under all that sputtering, boorish anger. Keep a cool head. (aside to SaturninusJ Watch yourself, honey-bunny. You’ve only been emperor for about 2 minutes. If you cause too much of a stink, the plebes will ask Titus to find a replacement for you. I fucking hate Titus so much I would wear pink if I thought it would wound him. He slaughtered my entire kingdom. Be cool about things and we’ll bring him to his knees. (to everyoneJ Okay, everybody, place nice-nice. Titus, forgive your sons and Bassianus. You boys, tell your father you love him.
Lucius:But he totally wigged out and killed my brother!
Saturninus:(bored) You are all tiring me so very much.
Tamora:Now, now Saturninus. You need to grant a blanket-pardon to everyone who’s been … cranky for the last few pages or so. C’mon everyone. Tell your emperor you’re sorry.
Titus,
Bassianus,
Lucius,
Quintus,
Martius,
Marcus:
We’re sorrrreeeeeee…
Lavinia:Huh? Wha–?


ACT II.

SCENE I. Rome. Before the Palace.
 Enter Aaron, the erstwhile conspicuously silent black Moor, now conniving and cracking his knuckles evilly.
Aaron:Tamora has played everyone. She’s so clever. I do love her so. ‘Specially in bed…
 Enter Tamora's sons, Chiron and Demetrius.
Demetrius:Sigh. I love that Lavinia with a reverence and respect that positively astounds me.
Chiron:Yah. Sigh. So do I.
Demetrius:Oh please. Gimme a break. You’re too young to even get an erection, much less feel something so profound as true love.
Chiron:Am not!
Demetrius:Are so!
Chiron:Am not! And besides, I love her!
Demetrius:Over your dead body! (they draw swords)
Aaron:Christ! Stop! What a stupid battle you’re fighting. If you want Lavinia, I’m afraid you’re going to have to take a number and queue up with everyone else in this damn silly play.
Chiron:Never! I am ablaze with all the fire of a pubescent horn-dog! My libido prohibits waiting a moment longer for release!
Demetrius:I, too, covet the creamy thighs of Lavinia with a passion that makes me think of large purchases beyond my means.
Aaron:Wow, okay. I’ll tell you what then. Tomorrow, Lavinia will stroll through a secluded glade. I’ll arrange the details so you can leap out and gang-bang her. I highly recommend this approach since trying to woo her away from Bassianus is … just not going to work out.
Chiron and
Demetrius:
Right on! Love rules!
 Exeunt.


SCENE II. A forest near Rome. A Lodge seen at a distance.
 Horns n’ hounds. Enter Titus Andronicus, with Hunters, Martius, Lucius, Quintus, and Marcus.
Titus:What a lovely day for a hunt. Let’s go wake up the emperor with our loud dogs.
 More horns n’ hounds. Enter Saturninus, Tamora, Bassianus, Lavinia, Chiron, Demetrius, and random, underpaid Extras.
Saturninus:It’s awful early for those damn dogs, don’t you think? You … uh … woke up our womenfolk.
Bassianus:Lavinia, sweetie, did the dogs and that damn horn wake you up, honey?
Lavinia:(staring at the sky) Huh? Wha–?
Saturninus:Right then! Let’s hunt since we’re up, I guess.
Martius:I’ve got the dogs!
Titus:I’ve got the horses!
Demetrius:(aside to Chiron) And I’ve got a hot pistol ready to fire into that saucy vessel Lavinia. (they giggle)


SCENE III. A Tryst in the Woods.
 Enter Aaron with a bag o’ gold.
Aaron:Some people would call me crazy for burying a bag o’ gold in the woods.
 Enter Tamora.
Tamora:Aaron, what a lovely day. What a lovely glade. What a lovely leaf, snake, butterfly and bird. Let’s boink and then have a nap, huh?
Aaron:Love to, but there’s no time. I’m going to kill Bassianus today. And you’re going to help. When Bassianus shows up, make him mad. I’ll go tell your kids to play along with whatever you say.
 Exeunt Aaron.
 Enter Bassianus and Lavinia.
Bassianus:Gooood morning, Tamora. Don’t you look lovely today in this remote, deserted forest glade.
Tamora:(barking) What the hell is that supposed to mean!? If you’re insinuating that I’m having an affair with Aaron-the-black-Moor, well you’re a … you’re a … oh you’ve found us out you bastards! I hate you both!
Lavinia:Huh? Wha–?
Bassianus:Really? You’re having an affair with Aaron? I had no idea. You big ole’ tart, you. Don’t you think Tamora is a big ole’ Tart, Lavinia?
Lavinia:Huh? Wha–?
Tamora:Christ I need a snakebite and a clove cigarette.
 Enter Chiron and Demetrius.
Demetrius:Hey Bass. Hey mom. What’s up? You look green.
Tamora:Oh thank god, my boy! You’re just in time. These two pre-verts dragged me to this horrible pit. Look at this rotting leaf, that slimy snake, that ugly caterpillar, that filthy pigeon. Look at this stinking glade! They dragged me here to insult me saying that I was sleeping around on the emperor! If you two love your momma, you’d slice them up!
Demetrius:I love my momma!(Stabs Bassianus right through)
Chiron:Aaaaahhh! (Stabs Bassianus also in a youthful display of overkill)
Tamora:Whew! Thanks boys. You can go screw your little lady friend now if you like.
 Chiron and Demetrius smirk and touch themselves while making lascivious faces at Lavinia.
Tamora:Better maim her when you’re through, of course. Don’t want her blabbin’ ‘boutcha.
Lavinia:Huh? Wha–?
Tamora:(placing hand on Lavinia’s shoulder and speaking as if to an invalid child) You’re going to get raped and maimed now, honey. Can you understand this?
Lavinia:No please. (Tamora spits on her.) God, you’re such a bitch, lady! (Chiron slaps her.) Owww! (Demetrius pulls and releases her bra-strap with a loud snap) Heyyy! (She begins to cry.)
Tamora:Throw Bassianus’ body into that convenient ditch over there, then get going you two! Have a ball. Ha ha, I made a funny. Anyway, I’ve gotta plan the demise of all the aristocracy of Rome. Busy day, busy day. But first, I have to hunt down Aaron for a quick victory-fuck and do a line.
 Exeunt.

Picking on Lavinia
SCENE IV. The same.
 Enter Aaron, with Quintus and Martius, stumbling through the woods.
Aaron:It’s somewhere around here. I swear I saw a panther sleeping. C’mon, guys.
Quintus:This is a very gloomy glade. I can’t see a thing.
Martius:I know. Me too. (he falls into the pit) Oof!
Quintus:Oh my god, are you okay?
Martius:(from within the pit) This sucks.
Aaron:(mumbling to himself) I’ll go get Saturninus and he’ll think these two killed Bassianus. (He leaves.)
Martius:Um, I found Bassianus’ body down here. You gonna help me out? It’s pretty stinky.
Quintus:I can’t reach you.
Martius:Shit. It’s scary down here.
Quintus:Wait, let me keep you company. (he jumps in the pit too)
Martius:Well that was bright.
Quintus:Oh. Yah. Duh.
 Enter Saturninus and Aaron.
Saturninus:Who’s down there in that stinky pit!
Martius:I am. And Quintus. Oh, and your brother too, who’s pretty dead.
Saturninus:Yah right. Whatever. He’s over at the lodge with Lavinia you foolers.
Martius:No, actually he’s… not.
 Enter Tamora, Titus Andronicus and Lucius.
Saturninus:Tamora, honey! My brother’s been killed.
Tamora:Oh I’m sorry dear. I was just hurrying here to give you this letter.
Saturninus:(reading:) Dear Hitmen: If you kill Bassianus, you can have the gold buried by the pit in the gloomy glade.
Aaron:Lookee here! A bag o’ gold! Whaddya know! That pretty much cinches it.
Saturninus:Titus, your kids are ingrates! Guards, throw them in prison for a while. I have to think of something sufficiently horrible to do to them.
Tamora:Oh, they’re in the pit? Well what a coincidence. (winks at Aaron)
Titus:Oh no please, don’t hurt my boys!
Saturninus:Well it’s obvious they’re guilty. (Titus weeps copiously.)
Tamora:There there, Titus. Don’t worry. They’ll get a fair trial. (Aaron stifles a giggle.)

Lavinia's Stumps
SCENE IV. The same.
 Enter Demetrius and Chiron, with Lavinia, ravished; her hands cut off, and tongue cut out.
Demetrius:Go ahead, try and tell someone who raped you. Oh, you don’t have a tongue! (laughs hysterically)
Chiron:…or write the names of your violators. Oh! You don’t have any hands! (They roll on the ground in paroxysms of hysterics)
Demetrius:You’re a mess, Lavinia. Go home and ask for some water to wash your hands.
Chiron:She can’t talk to ask and she doesn’t have any hands to wash! Bwhahaha!(they howl with laughter)
 Exeunt Demetrius and Chiron.
 Enter Marcus.
Marcus:Lavinia! Oh my god, who cut off your hands?
Lavinia:Arruuuunnngghh.
Marcus:What? I can’t understand a word you’re saying. Oh my god your tongue’s gone! C’mon, your dad’s gonna pissed!
 Exeunt

Tamora Gets Wiggy

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