Stratford Upon Avon, London
TITUS ANDRONICUS:: William Shakespeare
RSC: Main House
Runs: 3h 10m, one interval. Stratford then London till 19 Jan 2018
Tkts: 0844 800 1110
Review: Rod Dungate, 26 July 2017
A play chillingly for our Time
Our news in recent months has regularly been reporting terrible tortures and barbaric executions carried out by groups wishing to promote ‘the right path’ to an everlasting life. Such news from the real world has contextualised the violence in TITUS ANDRONICUS differently enabling us to see beyond it to the play within (though the horror of the violence is not lost.)
Blanche McIntyre’s contemporarily dressed production gives us a clear portrait of a fragile regime that is created from chaos, but that is immediately doomed to disintegration by its own initial acts of inhumanity. This process is examined in forensic detail by this b bold production full of contrasts.
The opening scene, the lauding of Titus and the coronation of Saturnius, is extremely clear. Clarity is somewhat lost in later scenes amid fighting, scrapping, and shouting; however there is a bonus to this as the quiet scenes in which the play is really given room to breathe, quiver with understated tension. Nowhere could this be clearer than in Marcus Andronicus’s meeting with the violated Lavinia, or in the late scenes of Titus Andronicus. In this dark play comedy finds its own space, emerging naturally from the dram, sharpening its edge, then taking a back seat once more.
Characters are well shaped.. David Troughton (Tius) handles the shifts in tone with great skill and comes greatly into his own in the quiet intensity of the latter part of the play. Patrick Drury (Marcus, Titus’s brother) is a real force at times sympathetic, at other times driving Titus along.
Blanche McIntyre has brought an exciting resonance to this dark and sometimes unsatisfactory play. McIntyre creates a chilling ending. Far from being a tragedy in which a new, virtuous order is ushered in, Lucius’s final victory speech (Lucius is Tom McCall), in which he moves from reticence to rhetoric and in which he delivers an executive order that Queen Tamara’s body be fed to wild animals, clearly indicates that the cycle of autocracy and violence is on the move again. And again and again.
(Full credits will follow).