Directed by Associate Professor Jenny de Reuck, Titus Andronicus is a challenging play for modern actors but it’s a challenge the performers have taken on wholeheartedly.
Titus Andronicus was one of the earliest plays written by Shakespeare and tells the story of the titular Titus, a Roman general who has returned from war to bury his sons.
He brings Tamora, the Queen of the Goths, home with him and, after ordering the death of her son, Tamora plots her revenge; what happens next leads to 14 deaths, ravishment, and severed limbs.
While the play is remembered for its many atrocities, there is a beauty in the language that is often overlooked.
“I could never agree with T.S. Eliot, that this was, as he put it, one of the stupidest and most uninspired plays ever written,” de Reuck said.
“In the extraordinary Andronici and their equally challenging antagonists, Tamora’s family, it seemed to me there was the kernel of a dramatic situation that could still speak, hauntingly, to contemporary audiences, despite the more than four centuries separating us from its first production, probably in 1594.”
“The violence in the play that – perhaps surprisingly – appalled 20th century Shakespearean scholars is drained of impact in this postmodern, post-Tarantino, post-Absurd moment of ours, and what I looked for in bringing the play to life were the fragmented ‘truths’ that the young playwright scripted: the moments of intimacy, between a father and his daughter, a mother and her sons; a father and his reviled infant.”
The director has re-envisioned the play and moved it to the German Weimar Republic in order to incorporate the surrealism of the action.
Absurdist elements are suggested in the decadence of Weimar Europe between the wars.
The production will be staged by the Murdoch Postgraduate Performance Group, at the Nexus Theatre, Murdoch University, February 25-27, at 7.30pm.
Tickets are $10 per person at the door.