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Titus Andronicus

First Published 2 May 2014, Last Updated 6 August 2014

What’s it all about?

It’s never a good sign when on entering the Globe’s auditorium you can see the stage is stained red with blood from previous performances. But then again if you turn up to a production of Titus Andronicus you can hardly expect anything less. After all this is a tale of revenge and murder, mutilation and rape, in which the title character is punished by the queen of the Goths for murdering her son.

Who’s in it?

Flora Spencer-Longhurst gives a heartbreaking and harrowing performance as Lavinia. Convulsing on stage with blood pouring from her mouth she is a picture of suffering as she lives out her violent and tragic fate. Matthew Needham proves himself a versatile actor, transforming into a powerful orator in the role of Saturninus after playing the witty and endearing Rafe in the The Knight Of The Burning Pestle at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse earlier in the year. Indira Varma and Obi Abili are compelling as secret lovers Tamora and Aaron the Moor, the latter executing what must be the most brutal murder of the entire production. Finally, William Houston is a fine Titus, mixing a comic madness with ruthless ferocity in his role as the tragic hero. The actor is at his best when prancing around the stage like an especially sadistic Gordon Ramsay as he prepares his unique feast for the manipulative Tamora.

What should I look out for?

Bright pink platform shoes: something I never thought I’d see on the Globe’s stage, let alone in a production of Shakespeare’s earliest and most brutal tragedy.

Who was in the press night crowd?

The crowd is almost as interesting as the performances in this gripping production by Lucy Bailey. You wouldn’t have thought it possible to take your eyes off the action even for a moment to watch the people around you, but when those people are dropping like flies after witnessing the horror of the Bard’s tragedy you have to find a way of doing both. Luckily the production makes full use of the brimming courtyard, manoeuvring chariots through the crowds and creating a treacherous pit among them to facilitate this endeavour.

In a nutshell?

An unforgettable evening of relentless savagery that leaves your jaw on the floor… along with all of the audience members for whom the gore has become too much.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@SamSpurgin #TitusAndronicus @The_Globe Top three things I’ve ever seen in the theatre!! Even in the pouring rain! GO!!

@Mr_Szabo Incredible #TitusAndronicus at @The_Globe tonight – what a tour de force! Absolutely exhilarating.

Will I like it?

This one will have an effect similar to that of Marmite. If you’re even the slightest bit squeamish, hate the sight of blood and the mere thought of mutilation makes you want to vomit save your 2014 visit to the Globe for one of its more cheerful productions. If you like your theatre with blood and guts strewn across the stage buy a £5 standing ticket and get as close to the action as you can.


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