BB: Titus Andronicus, Act IV

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back Brawlers to the Rrated slasher film that is Titus Andronicus! This week? Act IV. Because that’s the act that comes after III.

Listen to or download the podcast.

Before we get started though, big congratulations to Bard Brawler Niki Lambros who got to walk across the stage in hooded medieval monk wear to pick up her shiny new Masters diploma!

Here she is looking great and about to make her hasty getaway to meat and booze!

Niki Graduation

Bard Brawler co-captain Eric Jean (why, that’s me!) was also invited to show but went to work instead and skipped right to the drinking afterwards.

See? Niki and I are both on the same list!

masters grad

(Feel free to keep calling me the Master of the English Renaissance, Daniel but remember to capitalise that ‘M’ now.)

Alright. So act IV.

You’d think Shakespeare is running out of people to kill, rape and/or mutilate but don’t worry! The fun’s not about to stop now. (Although – and I’m just throwing this out there, Bill – maybe it should. Just a thought.)

Remember Lavinia? Right. She’s got no hands and her tongue was cut out so she couldn’t rat out her rapists, Chiron and Demetrius. Lavinia pointing to a copy of Ovid’s rape-filled Metamorphoses though finally gave someone the bright idea that she might be able to write that out in the dirt by holding a stick in her mouth and guiding it with her arms.

Now that they know who to kill, it’s time for some revenge!

In scene 2 Titus sends Young Lucius over to Demetrius and Chiron to deliver some weapons with a note in Latin. They don’t really get the message but Aaron does and realises that Titus is on to them. Before they can do anything though they hear trumpets sounding which means that Tamora just gave birth to what was supposed to be Saturninus’ son.

Good for him. Except that the nurse rushes in and the kid’s black, which is a bit of a problem for Aaron.

No worries though because Tamora figures they can just kill the baby and then all’s good. Aaron agrees but as soon as he has the kid he decides he’s not going through with it. Instead, he’s going to replace the baby with some other Goth couple’s white baby while they raise his black baby.

Then he kills the nurse so she can’t say anything about it.

Smart. He clearly has everything under control.

Meanwhile, Titus and his allies meet with Marcus and Lucius who fled from Rome and are back now with a sweet Goth army who are mad as hell! They decide that they’ll literally send Saturninus a message by shooting a bunch of arrows with messages from the gods right into the court.

And then, as all great conspirators have done since time immemorial, they recruit a passing clown with a few pigeons to deliver the final message of ‘We’re coming for your ass!’ right to the Emperor for them.

So they of course kill the messenger. Greedy clowns just can’t catch a break, I guess.

It’s just at this moment that a messenger shows up to tell them that a giant Goth army is about to kill Rome and that it’s being led by Titus’ son Lucius who’s crazy popular in Rome. Saturninus starts panicking but Tamora has a cunning plan: she’ll talk Titus down and then he’ll talk Lucius down.

Guess no one bothered to tell her that Titus knows that she helped her sons rape his daughter.

I’m sure he’ll be reasonable.

Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion! My gut (and the fact that I’ve read this before) tells me that this act V might be particularly delectable.

Also, welcome back to the pod legendary sonneteer and LA Kings fan Zoey Baldwin with sonnet 56!

Act I, scene iii; Mad King.

Check out the amazing writers and artists in ‘Zounds! 

Mad King, now available. Click the button and let 'Zounds! be yours.

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BB: Richard II, the Speeches

Artwork - Andre Simoneau
Artwork – Andre Simoneau

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back Brawlers to the speeches podcast of our tenth play, Richard II.

Listen to or download the podcast, or better yet subscribe on iTunes.

We also discuss the merits of bottled beer, stubbed-nosed or otherwise, versus tall cans.  Special treat: there may also be a nod to the brilliance of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (aka Patrick Stewart) in Star Trek: First Contact.


“Should dying men flatter with those that live?” Act II, scene 1
Speakers: Richard II, John of Gaunt
John of Gaunt’s loaded and near-death. King Richard pays him a visit to his dying uncle in the hopes that the old man will die soon so he can gobble up his lands and cash. However, as his death-bed speech Gaunt tells Richard that he’s the one who in danger of dying because he’s killed his own uncle Gloucester and now surrounds himself with flatterers who are likely to run to henry as soon as he gets back to England.

“Where is the duke my father with his power?” Act III, scene 2
Speakers: Duke of Aumerle, Richard II
Things are looking pretty grim for Richard. None of his so-called friends have shown up to fight on his side. He’s screwed and he knows it. And he wants everybody else around to know that he’s royally screwed and to finally stop feeding him bullshit and telling him what he wants to hear. He knows now that kings rarely make it to retirement and that for all of his kingly privilege, he’s just like everybody else, a nobody.

“Ascend his throne, descending now from him…” Act IV, scene 1
Speakers: Duke of York, Henry Bolingbroke, Bishop of Carlisle
Surrounded by his buddies, Henry Bolingrbroke agrees to take the throne and reign as Henry IV! Except the Bishop of Carlisle have a few issues with that. See, as kings are anointed by God people can’t just decide to replace the king with someone lese. Even if they take his power, Richard II is still the rightful king. Carlisle warns that they’ll be hell to pay if they go through with this.

Henry IV’s not too happy to hear this so he just has him arrested. Problem solved.

“Great king, within this coffin I present” Act 5 V, scene 6
Speakers: Exton, Henry Bolingbroke
It only makes sense that so long as Richard II is still around, there will be a bunch of people who refuse to accept that Henry IV is the new king. Life of course would be so much simpler if Richard would just meet with an unfortunate accident and disappear from The Tower. Seems like henry might have let that slip so Exton took his cue and did the dirty work. He then comes back to court to claim his reward except that henry doesn’t want this shit to reflect poorly on him.

So can you spell scapegoat? Yup, that’s right: E-X-T-O-N.

That’s it for play number ten Brawlers! Stay tuned for our next play in the next week or two and for announcements about the upcoming 3rd volume of ‘Zounds!

Zoey Baldwin returns to the brawl and brings us a lovely reading of Sonnet 56.

And hey! Buy ‘Zounds! You’ll never regret or forget it. Volume II is OUT NOW.


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BB: Timon of Athens, Act III

artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman
artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited by Eric Jean)

Welcome back to the Bard Brawl! This week, Daniel J Rowe, ‘Mister’ Nicholas MacMahon and myself are back for act III of Shakespeare’s tragedy, Timon of Athens.

Listen to or download the podcast.

With creditors knocking at his door, Timon turns to his friends to lend him a little money so he can avoid bankruptcy. He sends his servants out to see the three lords who he feels pretty confident will be able to bail him out.

Flaminius arrives at lord Lucullus’ house in act III, scene 1. Lucullus greets Timon’s servant warmly as he expects that he is here to deliver some sort of gift. When he discovers that Flaminius is there to ask for money, Lucullus puts on his best ‘I told him not to be so generous’ act and then tries to bribe Flaminius so he’ll pretend he wasn’t able to find Lucullus. Flaminius tosses the cash back at Lucullus then curses him (and all other selfish jerks like him) to be boiled in a vat of molten coins.

The next lord to be visited is Lucilius. By the start of this scene, he has apparently heard that Lucullus refused to bail Timon out. He finds it deplorable and says that of Timon had turned to him instead, he would have been happy to help him. And on that cue, Servilius enters. Lucilius also seems to think that Timon’s servant is here offering gifts at first. When he finds out that Servilius is here to beg some cash for Timon, Lucilius replies that he would love to be able to help Timon out but – wouldn’t you know? – he just spent the last of his available funds this very morning, just before Servilius arrived. What an unfortunate coincidence.

Are all of Timon’s friends flattering jerks? Surely Sempronius isn’t like Lucius, Ventidius, or Lucullus? At the start of scene 3, Sempronius seems disgusted by the fact that the others lords have refused to help Timon. Even worse, Sempronius is disgusted that he wasn’t asked first, as this might suggest that maybe Timon doesn’t like him as well as the other lords. So, if Timon doesn’t care for him as much and his close friends refused to bail him out, why should Sempronius have to help him out? He proclaims to Timon’s servant that any man who would dishonour him in this way won’t get any help from him.

With no one left to ask for money, Timon has locked himself up in his house in scene 4. In a hall in his house, his creditor’s servants want to be paid. Seems that the servants aren’t too keen to be collecting from Timon when they know full well that their masters walk around with the jewellery that Timon once gave them. As they wait, Timon’s messengers return to announce that they have failed to get any money for Timon’s debts.

Timon eventually enters the hall in a rage and is greeted by the collectors’ bills. He offers to pay with his blood and flesh and chases the servants out of his house. Once they are gone, he asks his servants to invite all of his former friends back to his estate for one final banquet.

We leave Timon behind for a moment as scene 5 takes place in the Athenian senate-house and features the general Alcibiades. It appears that one of Alcibiades’ soldiers was involved in the violent crime in Athens. The law calls from his execution but Alcibiades, as his commanding officer, is here to beg the senate for leniency. The senate refuses. When Alcibiades is a little too insistent in his critique of the thanklessness of the Athenian senate, they banish him from the city despite all of the wars he fought for them. This should remind you of another general who was forced to turn his back on his city.

The last scene of the act takes place in Timon’s house. The lords have all arrived for the feats and are commenting that clearly Timon’s need for money must not have been so great as they have heard. Timon greet them all and escorts them into the dining room where for each guest is layed out a covered dish. The lords sit down, Timon curses all of Athens’ flattering lords, and once the covers are removed, each guest sees that their meal is warm water and rocks. Timon slashes the water in their ungrateful faces and then drives them out in a hail of stones.

The craziest part of the whole thing is that none of the lords seems to have a clue as to why Timon would be pissed at them…

Penniless and friendless, What’s next for Timon? Find out next week!

Sonnet 56 read from afar by Zoey Baldwin.

Shout out to the Segal Centre’s production of Othello in its last weekend and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s upcoming Pericles from Dec. 4 – 29.


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Follow @TheBardBrawl on Twitter.

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