Titus Andronicus – reviews of 'bloody good' Shakespeare

May 6, 2014

'Exciting' but 'harrowing' revival of Shakespeare's most brutal play even has the critics swooning


What you need to know
A revival of Shakespeare’s tragedy Titus Andronicus has opened at Shakespeare’s Globe, London. Lucy Bailey directs this graphic production of Shakespeare’s bloodiest and most violent play, which has reportedly led to frequent fainting in the audience.

Set in the late days of the Roman Empire, it tells the story of a fictional Roman general, Titus, who becomes caught up in a brutal and devastating cycle of revenge with Tamora, Queen of the Goths.  Runs until 13 July. 

What the critics like 
This is “a bloody good revival of a bloody, strange play”, says Dominic Maxwell in The Times. Alongside the excitement and grotesque bloodshed, is the sobering sense that revenge is for dummies; that violence begets only violence.

The production "deftly combines psychological detail with wild energy, comic brio and desolate horror to plunge you into the waking nightmare of a society gripped by blood feud", says Sarah Hemming in The Financial Times. It’s eerie, exciting, claustrophobic and unnerving.

It “pulls no punches” and achieves a dramatic power that makes the stomach churn and the hands sweat, says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. The performances are outstanding and “you leave the theatre feeling both harrowed to the marrow and disconcertingly elated”.

What they don’t like 
Holly Williams in The Independent admits that she fainted and missed Act III, scene ii, but says: “if it’s anything like the rest of this vivaciously staged, blackly comic and dizzyingly unrestrained production, it was probably exceptional”.        

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