"Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus" Surreal Comedy of Mass Political Murder

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Author: Lucy Komisar
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The Komisar Scoop

It takes only three actors, though the set requires some imagination. It should be produced all over the country!

In this case the kill is from the massacre of Shakespeare’s probably most bloody play. “Titus Andronicus,” set during the latter days of the Roman Empire, it is the fictional story of Titus, a Roman army general engaged in a cycle of violent revenge wars against Tamora, Queen of the Goths. Considering the gore of some of the Bard’s play, that is saying something.

Nathan Lane as Gary, Kristine Nielson as Janice.

photo Julieta Cervantes  //  The Komisar Scoop

The workers are two women, Janice (Kristine Nielsen) and Carol (Julie White) and a guy Gary (Nathan Lane), talking in rhymed couplets. All are terrific comic actors and accomplished Broadway performers.

Janice declares with a grimace, “Ya think this is me first massacre? Ya think I sat around idle on the Ides of March? Ya think the mangled man parts of Marcus Manlius just rolled themselves off the scene? Oh no.”

“Someone had to collocate the duties, marshal the maids, assemble the scrubbers. And that someone was me. Time and time again.”

Julie White as Carol.

photo Julieta Cervantes  //  The Komisar Scoop

The underlying story, of course, is reducing the problem of mass murder to the mundane task of disposing of the bodies.

Their speech labels them as cockneys, lower class, the same as the victims. The bodies are piled high, then transferred efficiently to carts.

They are the bodies of people murdered in battle. People responsible for mass murder, today and in the past, don’t give much thought to who will cart the bodies away.

The cleaners’ job is sucking, blowing, and pounding the blood and the gas out of cadavers which are made out of life-sized fabric dolls. Pressing down on the forms yields noisy flatulence. Or maybe spurts of blood. Like a vaudeville joke.


He accuses Janice of “shuffling girls, from play rooms to graves.  So worried about taking care of the dead but not actually caring enough to do something about their dying.”


JANICE Lower your voice!

GARY The first is gonna be last…

And Janice, when the court sees it, they’ll be a little taken back at first. They’ll be a moment of silence, don’t kid yourself.  But then, in the distance, one soul will feel a bubbling finding its way to their hands. “What am I doing?” they’ll wonder. “Why am I clapping?” And they’ll realize. They’re clapping for hope. And soon it spreads. Not just one court member but two.”


Indeed, a work of the imagination, a fable brilliantly, cleverly presented. Alas, a fable.

Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus.” Written by Taylor Mac; Original music by Danny Elfman; Directed by George C. Wolfe. Booth Theater 222 W 45th St. New York City. 212-239-6200. Opened April 21, 2019; closes June 16, 2019. Running time 1:35.

[Lucy Komisar is a theater critic and member of The Drama Desk, the organization of New York theater critics, writers and editors. Her particular interest is the political aspects of theater.]

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Thanks to the author for sending this to Portside.

Source URL: https://portside.org/2019-06-15/gary-sequel-titus-andronicus-surreal-comedy-mass-political-murder