Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus
Director: Blanche McIntyre
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: David Troughton, Patrick Drury, Nia Gwynne, Martin Hutson, Marcello Walton, Hannah Morrish, Jon Tarcy, Kristin Atherton, Sean Hart, Tom Lorcan, Anthony Ofoegbu, Stefan Adegbola, Joseph Adelakun, Tom McCall, William Bliss, Amber James
Seen on: 9.8.2017

CN: rape and a whole lot of violence

Titus (David Troughton) returns home after waging a brutal war which cost him his children. He finds that he is expected to take over as emperor, which he’s actually not interested in doing. What he wants is to exact revenge on the Goth queen Tamora (Nia Gwynne) and her three sons, all four of them his prisoners. But revenge only brings more revenge.

This production of Titus Andronicus uses a modern setting for Shakespeare’s bloodiest play and at times this falls into the category of trying too hard. Given that the play itself also isn’t really my thing, this made for mixed feelings during the performance.

Any play that involves a retaliatory rape to punish the father of the woman being raped will have a tough time convincing me that it isn’t misogynist at heart. Especially when the rape also involves cutting out the woman’s tongue and her arms, taking away her voice, so that she’s reduced to a prop for her father’s pain. Not that there wouldn’t have been possibilities to still have her speak (I mean, she does get to say enough to point out her rapists), but the play doesn’t concern itself with that. It rather ends in a mercy killing of her, because being disabled and raped is obviously not worth surviving.

The play revels in the bloodiness of this – and other – acts and assaults. And it often does feel like exploitative reveling, and not like a comment on brutality and violence (although it does manage to include that sometimes). And that despite the fact that the production tries very hard to make comments on the violence of current politics.

There were good moments to the production, though. I liked the stage design with its modern, minimalist sensibilities that reflects the value of efficiency in politics at the moment. And if that’s efficiency in killing, so be it. There’s also a sense of urgency to it, that was rather impressive. And the cast wasn’t bad at all.

But put altogether, I was not really taken with the play or this production of it. I’d rather go for any other Shakespeare play.

Summarizing: If you like blood, you might want to give this a try, but it’s okay if you don’t.

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