Shakespeare’s Roman Empire Strikes New Trumpean Notes

by Barry David Horwitz 

I have always avoided this play. It’s a horror show of grotesque, gory, and ghoulish murders, rapes, and tortures that take place in a fictional late Roman Empire. “Titus Andronicus” sports lots of ranting and raving and mainly, the ever-popular REVENGE, that drips with blood from every speech.

And yet, the play exudes an ominous charm. After all, the power of one man to sway the multitudes and exert his petty, personal selfishness over the entire people makes a pretty familiar story.

In “Titus Andronicus,” the brutal tyrant Saturninus (marvelous Michael Barr) has the power to accuse, imprison, kill, and torture his subjects—the Roman Empire in its dying days has given him that patriarchal primacy.  Yes, it’s Trumpism in all its dismal glory, no mistake. The Emperor even puts children in cages. Saturninus, I mean.

Lucius (Isabelle Grimm) and Titus (Shane Fahy) Photo by Eileen Fisher

[Taylor] “presents indelible stage pictures that embody power, arrogance, and inequality.”

The ruling patriarch, his slimy, scheming family, and his sycophants break out in irrational passions, and practice smash/grab politics at every moment. That’s how Empires operate and then, fail—once they overreach their power. They create false enemies—like the press, and they scapegoat immigrants and minorities.  We are living in the end of an Empire, again. Shakespeare’s play proves it.

While other countries offer free health care, free universities, free housing—we offer jail, beatings, and ignorant vengeance.

Director Tina Taylor has laid out for us exactly what it’s like to live in this Empire. She has worked out physical and ritualistic movements for the actors that express the extreme inequality we live in now, in the U.S. She presents indelible stage pictures that embody power, arrogance, and inequality.

Bassiana (Talya Levine) is separated from Lavinia (Isabel Langen) Photo by Eileen Fisher

Read the full review by Barry David Horwitz at Theatrius

See more photos of TITUS ANDRONICUS in our photo gallery here!


Millennial Notes

Steven Dietz Entices Us with Suspense and Mystery

by Rachel Norby

I thoroughly enjoyed Theatre Lunatico’s masterful presentation of “Dracula.” Performed in La Val’s Subterranean Theater, the setting is intimate and spooky. Whispered echoes from the ensemble add to the eeriness. An ageless story about the vampire who cannot die, Lunatico’s “Dracula” impressed me with superb acting, costuming, and staging.

“Dracula” opens in London, 1897, where serious Dr. Seward (resolute Shoresh Alaudini) has fallen in love with the fickle Lucy (versatile April Culver). Dr. Seward is determined to make a name for himself by understanding what causes the lunacy of a patient in the mental hospital, Renfield (talented Maria Grazia Affinito).  Alaudini perfectly conveys Seward’s stalwart nature, mingled with quiet desperation.

“Superb acting, costuming, and staging”.


Van Helsing and Seward

Eileen Fisher (Dr. Anna Van Helsing) and Shoresh Alaudini (Dr. Seward)

Maria Grazia Affinito, brilliant as Renfield, endears herself to us, creepily, with her desperate loyalty for Count Dracula (sinister Michael Barr). Renfield, the “madwoman,” is constantly on-stage, many times in the shadows, never allowing us to forget that something sinister is lurking in the dark, soon to be revealed.


Maria Grazia Affinito (Renfield)


“The creative team spares no horrors. Bravo to all Lunatico’s”.


Read the full review by Rachel Norby at Theatrius.

See our Dracula production gallery here!

Something’s Brewing in the Basement

Theatre Lunatico Artistic Director Tina Taylor was recently interviewed by Theatre critic, Sam Hurwitt, for the November issue of The Monthly, a magazine on culture in the East Bay. The article focuses on Theatre Lunatico’s move into the Subterranean Theater at La Val’s Pizza in Berkeley, the company’s upcoming season of productions, and future plans for the space.


Read the entire article here:



La Val’s Subterranean Theater—Here We Come!

Theatre Lunatico moves in to the La Val’s space on September 1, 2017!

We’re moving from our humble, nomadic accommodations to our very own black box theatre, complete with pizza & a pint!

Theatre Lunatico produces big theatre in small spaces, and we have big plans for this small venue beneath the pizzeria. We intend to establish a laboratory space for physical ensemble theatre, providing classes, performance opportunities, discussions, workshops, and a vibrant gathering hub for theatre artists, poets, musicians, dancers & more.



But we have a lot of work to do! With enormous thanks to Theatre Bay Area for our Cash Grant, we can get started on vital work in the space, but it is essential that we match those funds through other sources!

Our first priority—the theatre needs a new floor. The current floor is concrete, the worst possible surface for physical ensemble work.

And just as our feet would like to dance on a softer surface, our heads would like to be adequately illuminated! Lighting needs to be upgraded, and backstage and audience realms need a little primping…

What can you do to help us achieve our goals?

  • Join a work party in August and/or September (emphasis on work AND party)!
  • Make a donation. Cash is always nice!
  • Produce or sponsor one of our shows!
  • Emptying your garage? Maybe that old shelving unit or sofa could be useful…
  • OR updating your office and have old computers, laptops…?

We’re building from the ground up!

FullSizeRender 2



Last seen in Theatre Lunatico’s production of Macbeth, we now find Fleance, Lennox & Macbeth getting down to business—dusting & mopping the new space!

Help us make Theatre Lunatico’s space a hive of activity!


Huge thanks and important updates!

Theatre Lunatico’s core company would like to thank all of our friends, family, colleagues and theatre community for coming out to San Rafael to see our production of Macbeth. This project was a fantastic experience for our ensemble cast and crew, made more so by your warm support and enthusiastic responses.
We would also like to send out a huge thank you to Margot Jones and the West Coast Arts Foundation for collaborating with us to present Macbeth here in Marin, and to Sylvia Israel at the Imagine Center for Creativity and Healing and Eileen and Andrew Fisher for providing additional rehearsal space. Ross Valley Players gave us tremendous support on many fronts, including the generous donation of set, costume and props; we could not have pulled this off without their support! Additionally, we received generous donations of materials from Macbeath Hardware, and donated technical support from Scott Hess. Steve Price went out of his way to help us in finding a replacement actor for King Duncan. Katherine Cope, Sumi Narendran Cardinale, Frank Cardinale, Heather Cherry and Peter Bradbury provided much needed and appreciated front of house support.
Thanks also goes out to the staff at AEA who have patiently guided us through the BAPP process, enabling us to continue to work with our fabulous AEA actors.
And lastly (but by no means least!), we would like to send out an excited “Thank you!” to Theatre Bay Area, who not only worked with such generous support and kindness in helping us to navigate the TBA adjudication process, get the word out about our company and production, and encourage us at every step along the way, but also just announced that they will be awarding us a CA$H grant to support our efforts to get La Val’s Subterranean Theatre up and running as not only our new home, but also an exciting new venue for the Bay Area theatre community. We are so grateful for the very real and solid support they provide to emerging companies like ours! Thank you, TBA!
2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for us, one in which we are seeing all our past efforts bearing golden fruit! We are excited by the prospects ahead, and deeply appreciative of all the support we have received from our Bay Area theatre community along the way.
Stay tuned for more news as we move into our new home and start to put the pieces together for an exciting season of theatre ahead, and see you all at La Val’s!
With love and appreciation – The Theatre Lunatico core company (Tina, Eileen, Michael, Shawn, and Melanie) on behalf of the Lunatico ensemble of theatre artists.

Theatrius review! “Macbeth goes primal at Theatre Lunatico”.

Lennox lighting up

“If you have never experienced stripped down theater, take this opportunity to embrace a deeper bond with these powerful actors, and be swept away. Theatre Lunatico gives us the full tale, full of power.  I recommend the front row. I like it raw.”

You can read the full review here at the Theatrius website.


At Theatre Lunatico we are currently in the research phase of Macbeth, the second production in our Shoebox Shakespeare Series.

We were working together on the script the night of the US elections. At some point during that evening, as the frighteningly impossible became increasingly probable, the rehearsal seemed to grind to stunned and perplexed halt. We hugged hurriedly, fled early, all wanting, I believe, to get home to our loved ones. We left, one by one, in a state of quiet shock to “seek out some desolate shade and there weep our sad bosoms empty”.

Tyranny, it seems, is descending on us. As crude corruption stalks the corridors of power, it truly does appear that “our country sinks beneath the yoke. It weeps, it bleeds”.

Our exploration of this astonishing text has taken on new meaning since we heard the results. We are channeling our horror and fear, and our hopes, into our art. 

Here is a taste of what’s to come…