Shakespeare: Titus Andronicus - RSC (DVD)

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SKU:
OA1263D
Artist:
Royal Shakespeare Company, Blanche McIntyre

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David Troughton (Titus), Nia Gwynne (Tamora), Stefan Adegbola (Aaron), Hannah Morrish (Lavinia), Patrick Drury (Marcus Andronicus), Martin Hutson (Saturninus), Dharmesh Patel (Bassianus), Tom McCall (Lucius), Luke MacGregor (Chiron), Sean Hart (Demetrius), Jon Tarcy (Alarbus)

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Titus has returned from a brutal 10-year war having lost 21 sons in battle. Betrayed by his nation, and with his family in pieces, a series of bloody events follows as he and Tamora, Queen of the Goths, begin a violent cycle of revenge. Rape, cannibalism, mutilation and murder are the gruesome tools in Shakespeare's bloodiest play.

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Reviews:

'There's fantastic work, throughout, from Troughton, grizzled, grey-faced, buttoned-up and stiff-limbed – a loyal old warrior surviving battles abroad only to be betrayed at home, driven to clarifying madness by his blind adherence to a heartless state. He catches Titus's rasping, ramrod arrogance, his crumpling up with agony, and the particular macabre pathos too of his wildly empathetic raving in defence of a slain fly: "How if that fly had a father and a mother?...' (The Daily Telegraph)

'A terrific cast give a masterclass in power and paranoia in this tremendous modern-day revival of Shakespeare's tale of revenge. Blanche McIntyre's striking new production confirms what many of us have long thought: that Shakespeare's goriest play is also a masterly study of the nature of grief. Even the decision to play it in modern dress is justified by the fact that the play is not about a historical Rome but about a civilisation in terminal decline. In the great central scene where Titus confronts his ravished, mutilated daughter, Lavinia … Troughton breaks down magnificently, uttering a helpless, sky-rending cry of "What shall we do?' ... there are strong performances all round. Stefan Adegbola conveys the unapologetic villainy of Aaron, Martin Hutson as the emperor, Saturninus, shows how unchecked power quickly descends into paranoia and Nia Gwynne as the Gothic queen, Tamora, is all lean lasciviousness … when watching Troughton's rock-like Titus crumbling into madness, you feel you are in the presence of tremendous theatre'. (The Guardian)

'The violation of Titus' daughter, Lavinia, is like an open wound in the middle of the play, a wet and fleshy puckering. McIntyre does not shy away from the play's horrors, if anything she magnifies them. Lavinia's protracted plea to vengeful Goth queen Tamora to spare or slay her, rather than hand her over to her sons, is painful to watch. Her uncle's discovery of her mangled, traumatised and silenced body, soaked in blood, with her underwear around her ankles, borders on the unbearable. As the tone of the production becomes more jagged and macabre, Troughton's performance also grows in size. His thirst for revenge enlivens him in new and strange ways. Stefan Adegebola invests Tamora's lover Aaron with more than just malevolence and Hannah Morrish brings nobility to the damaged but not broken Lavinia. McIntyre tackles this play gusto and intelligence. The results are not unproblematic, but then this is one of Shakespeare's most fascinatingly problematic plays and the result feels apt'. (The Stage)

'The title role could not currently be better cast. David Troughton is a fine deadpan comic yet one who always ensures there's a shadow lowering across the joke, and is also first-rate at the serious, even sombre material. Blanche McIntyre's production appears at first to be simply modish in setting the play amid contemporary-flavoured upheavals, but this pays off increasingly as she gets both humorous and serious mileage out of the conventions and nuances of public political rhetoric, with figures behind a lectern delivering pieces to camera'. (The Financial Times)

'Here, director Blanche McIntyre treads the fine line with some deft footwork, indulging the audience in some nervous laughter while always doing the text the courtesy of taking it seriously. The result is, indeed, bleak, but never feels like an endurance test, even with a running time well over three hours. Often, modern-day productions can seem gimmicky and overwrought with conceptual notions into which the Elizabethan text is uncomfortably squeezed. Not so in this show. Any contemporary device or prop is woven seamlessly into the language, rendering the 21st century setting both credible and highly resonant. But the evening belongs to David Troughton, whose Titus is a fine and thoroughly enjoyable creation. From a starting point of soldierly stature and devotion to the state, he ranges through fury and bitterness to dark humour and Pyrrhic triumph as his world disintegrates around him and treachery unpicks his lifelong mission. You always get the feeling you're in the safest of hands with this accomplished, ebullient actor, and he relishes every moment of his time on stage'. (WhatsOn Stage)