Slashing and Splashing at Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare's Globe

9:00 am

If you don't know the story of Titus Andronicus, just think of Game of Thrones but written in the 16th century and set at the end of the Roman Empire. Blood, gore, rape, murder, revenge, and a healthy share of cannibalism. Throat-cutting, tongue-slicing, hand-lopping fun for all the family (I'm kidding, but seriously, the guy next to me during the interval had brought his young child). Titus is by far Shakespeare's bloodiest play and commonly thought of as his first tragedy, beginning his run of brilliant revenge plays including Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear, which are his best works in my opinion.

I adore spending time in London and I'm really enjoying living back at home, being such a short journey away from the bustling city. The outskirts of the city can be so beautiful, with harbours, old derelict buildings, and small hidden away pubs for Sunday lunch. Lots of pretty things to look at before blood (albeit fake blood) was spilled.

It was a remarkably hot day, which probably contributed a lot to the amount of people fainting around me during the performance (yes, that happened). Honestly, I could see WHY people were reacting so strongly to what they were seeing on stage, but it had zero effect on me. Yes, it was unpleasant and I wouldn't choose to watch that amount of slaughter on a daily basis, but the aforementioned Game of Thrones seems to have made me quite immune to gore. In fact I found myself giggling at some points. When you have it set so deeply in your head that it's not real and all fantastic stage work, there's nothing you can do but enjoy it for the amazing thing it is. I was absolutely blown away.

My praise goes out to everyone involved, cast and crew, but there are a few honorable mentions I'd like to give. Obi Abili as the charmingly evil Aaron, William Houston as the best Titus I could have wished for (he acts with every muscle in his face, it's utterly incredible), Matthew Needham as the hilarious and camp Saturninus, and Flora Spencer-Longhurst for her unbelievable portrayal of the tragic Lavinia.

Another wonderful thing about the performance was the usage of the stage and entire theatre to change the mood of the play. The Globe is famous for being a roofless theatre, but for the performance was draped with black fabric to keep out the sun, making the entire space even hotter. The stage was covered with the same black fabric and incense burned throughout. However there were comic elements that eased the crowd, especially at the beginning when you could feel every standing in the pit's nerves, knowing what they would see was going to be horrible but also having no idea what to expect. Water and beer were thrown over the crowd during moments where the action took place IN the pit, which was both intense and thrilling. I was absolutely soaked by the end, and had been pushed, shoved, and shouted at by the actors. I've never experienced anything quite like it.

M x

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