Friday, May 09, 2014


Shakespeare's Globe

Lucy Bailey's darkly violent production of this early revenge tragedy was a huge success in 2006. Now it's back, in a slightly more light-hearted version, bringing the gory tale to vibrant life, daring the groundlings to stay the blood-stained course from rape to incestuous cannibalism.
It's a staging that involves the audience, with mobile towers careering around the yard, processions and chases. William Dudley's radical design swathes the Globe's colourful columns and frons scaenae in black; there's smoke and incense for atmosphere, and Django Bates' brutal music.
A strong cast – all new to this most challenging of spaces – is headed by William Houston's Titus, powerful, disturbing, but oddly touching in his mad desire for vengeance. Indira Varma is a sardonic Tamora; Obi Abili a strikingly dignified Aaron. Flora Spencer-Longhurst is the tragically mutilated Lavinia, and amongst the viscerally violent villains, a standout performance from Matthew Needham as an instinctively savage Saturninus.
Academics are often unsure of how to approach this, Shakespeare's only stab at the genre. Directors too. And audiences – giggling, texting, drinking wine, eating burgers, fainting. But impossible not to react in some way to all this blood, confusion and casual butchery.

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