"confused cluttered disappointing mish mash"
by Judy Collins for remotegoat on 06/02/13

Titus Andronicus is not a play that I am overly familiar with, and after experiencing PurpleCoat Productions' interpretation at The Unity,it is not one that I am in any rush to experience again.

The set was minimal with 2 main areas and atmospheric hanging lights in the centre of the stage. Our introduction to the Andronicus family was brought to us through film projected onto hanging sheets. So far, so good.

But that's as good as it got. From the very beginning we experienced a mish-mash of media that didn't enhance the story but only served to confuse it. Three dancers appeared sporadically, music appeared at "poignant" moments, and film was projected in order to, I can only interpret, show us how happy Titus and his family were before all this damned warring!

None of it made sense, and during some of the dramatic speeches the music was louder than the actors. This was especially apparent when we were treated to a nightclub scene complete with hot-pants clad dancers for one of Lavinia's final monologues.

For the most part, the characters seemed to be on stage because they were actors who had been told to do so. Their movement was awkward and staid, often giving the impression of a self directed school production.

The downplaying of Shakespeare's language left the words being either dull or just shouted, I can only assume to be more naturalistic. And I lost count of the amount of times the lines were dotted with the modern affliction of pronouncing "th's" as "v".

Many aspects of this production did not work, not just the acting. There were several poor lighting choices including seemingly random spotlights that only lit parts of the stage, and at one point left Titus in blackness during a conversation with other characters who were lit. If this were an intentional choice then I would have to question the intent behind it.

Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare's most brutal tragedies, on this occasion the tragedy was the execution.

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