Titus Andronicus @ The Globe Theatre by Ben Spencer

24th April – 13th July 2014
Rating: 4/5

Shakespeare’s bloodbath Titus Andronicus returns to the Globe Theatre as a revival of Lucy Bailey’s original production from 2006.

Those familiar with the narrative will be no stranger to the ruthless onslaught of death, rape, cannibalism and more death and perhaps no one knows this better than the producer’s themselves. With on site medics to meet the ever increasing fainting members of the audience this is a play definitely not for the faint hearted.

Following a gruelling conflict with the goths; Titus Andronicus returns to Rome from the War with his remaining Sons to find a dispute over the next Roman Emperor whilst bringing with him Tamora and her three sons as slaves from the former bloodshed. After reconciling this early dispute and killing one of his own son’s, whom he accusing of betrayal, the new found emperor marries Tamora, after Titus murders two of her sons as retribution for the loss of his own son’s during the war.

This very much plays as a platform to which the plays major theme of revenge takes root, as Tamora swears vengeance upon her sons who were murdered before her as she is able to manipulate her husband with her elicit connection to the Moor Aaron. Together the two blood hungry antagonists device a plan to rape of Laviania (Titus’s daughter) and murder her husband Bassianuss, the emperor’s brother, whilst framing two of Titus’s sons whose heads get sent to Titus after he cut’s off his own hand to plea mercy for them.

Shifting forward to the scene that got the audience gripped and appalled , Laviania’s entrance onto the stage after Demetrius and Chiron raped her, with both her tongue and hands mutilated, the blood soaked daughter stumbled into the stage as the crowd gasped in horror and even led to one member fainting. Unable to articulate the act of barbarism upon her virtue, she is eventually able to illustrate the deed through placing wood between her muted mouth and stumps and informs the remaining members of her family of what has transpired.

The theme of revenge is duplicated for a second onslaught as Titus murders Tamnora’s sons and cooks them into a pastry that he then serves to the Queen and the Emperor which leads to one final serving of blood fueled retribution.

What was great about the production was the immense performance of each cast member and the level of authenticity to their role. Whist Tamora remains pivotal within the darker themes of the narrative her vulnerability within the first act makes her actions understandable. What’s more her ability to out manoeuvre the Emperor highlight the power of women over a male dominated world.

One of the very few flaws of the production came from Aaron’s character. Some of his most intriguing dialogue failed in its delivery with a member of the audience yelling “Speak Up”, the frustration of this was generally felt during his early stages as his character is an integral piece of the play’s themes. However, the scene with his bastard baby to which was born through his affair to the Queen was both powerful and shuddering and reminds us of how complex Shakespeare’s characters truly are.

The final scene received a mass applause from the audience and the revival of Shakespeare’s darkest narrative still resonated with contemporary audiences with plenty of shocked and enticed reactions throughout. Another prominent factor is the acting of Titus himself. The actor was able to fulfill the role of both the victorious warrior, the grieving father and the deliverer of bloody retribution who quite literately demonstrated that revenge is a dish best served cold through the cannibalistic feast of the final scene.