Pros: Enjoyable show with good acting, gruesome parts and dialogue that stays true to Shakespeare.
Cons: Timings that could be improved upon.
Although I did not know much about Titus Andronicus before, I had heard that it was gory to say the least. Being quite squeamish, I was a little worried… Though through the strong performances, well-rehearsed fight scenes and a mix of old and new in the costumes, the production was much more enjoyable than I had expected!
Titus Andronicus is set in Rome, where the Emperor’s two sons (Prince Bassianus, played by Michael Bagwell, and Prince Saturnius, played by Gareth Kearns) argue as to who should succeed him. However, Marcia Andronicus (Cornelia Baumann) discovers that the choice of the people is Titus Andronicus (Matthew Ward), a general who has recently returned from a 10 year battle against the Goths. Many of his sons died in the conflict and to make amends, Titus chooses to execute the eldest son of the Queen of the Goths (Tamora, played by Elizabeth Appleby). Fortunately for Tamora, she is not resigned to an even worse fate: Titus refuses the throne and backs Prince Saturnius, who takes her as his bride. Tamora and her two sons, Demetrius (Alex Stevens) and Chiron (Will Mystum) plan to take revenge for the death of the eldest by targeting the Andronicus clan and specifically Lavinia (Remy Moynes), Titus’ daughter and Bassianus’ wife.
The design is a mix of the Roman setting and 21st century life, portrayed with modern clothing as costumes and the use of Facebook, Twitter and various mobile devices. An example of this is when we see an online rally started by the youngest of the Andronicus clan against Prince Saturnius, its effect and the damage it does him because of his weak rule and frequent visits to the strip club.
The set consisted simply of a black backdrop and a scaffolding area which was used in various ways. However, the actors and director made the most out of this seemingly low-budget look, and made use of the audience’s imagination. The music was irregular at times, in the sense that it would sometimes just cut off during dialogue and start up again later without warning. The overall music choices were quite unusual with rock as the main soundtrack to the play. At the beginning I didn’t really get it, but in the end I found myself surprisingly enjoying the music. It added to the feel of the play, with its gory and at times disturbing parts.
The performances were generally OK, especially those of Dimitrius and Chiron, Levinia, Marcia and Aaron, Tamora’s secret lover, played by Spencer Lee Osborne. Especially in the parts where they had more dramatic and emotionally challenging roles.
The venue itself is quite easy to find, and it offers a nice atmosphere where you can watch the show quite comfortably. The sound effects are easily heard and there is good visibility throughout the auditorium.
Overall, the production is great for fans of Shakespeare and gruesome plays; It stays true to what Shakespeare wrote and mixes in some new ideas. The acting is consistent throughout the two hours that the play lasts. The music is unusual and though the timings could use work, it doesn’t detract from the overall value of the play. It has some unusual design elements, and whilst the overall concept isn’t overly original, it is a well performed production that is worth seeing if you like the story of Titus Andronicus.
Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Ross McGregor
Producer: Ross McGregor
Booking Until: Saturday 14th November
Box office: 0844 871 7677
Booking link: http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/titus-andronicus/new-wimbledon-studio/#showinfotabs=fees