‘Puppet Titus’ a twisted mess

Literary critic Harold Bloom once suggested that the ideal way to present Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” would be as a parody directed by Mel Brooks.

Shakespeare’s early tragedy-thriller is a wild, nonstop bloodbath that makes the end of “Hamlet” look tame by comparison. It is rarely staged or taken seriously.

One little-known theater company, the Puppet Shakespeare Players, has come up with an even better way of doing the play. As you’ve probably already guessed based on the group’s name, it’s with puppets. It got no less than Twisted Sister rocker Dee Snider to sign on as a producer.

Alas, the 90-minute production itself, which is done in the style of the long-running puppet musical “Avenue Q,” with actors operating furry-looking puppets in plain sight of the audience, is an amateurish mess that, with the exception of portraying gushing blood by spraying Silly String, is not funny at all.

Especially annoying is the tendency of its cast members to step out of character and make pointless comments, which is an indication of their inability to make the plot funny on its own.


If you go: ‘Puppet Titus Andronicus’  plays through Aug. 16 at Theater Row, 410 W. 42nd St., puppetshakespeare.org