Review Round Up: Titus Andronicus, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

We take a look at what is being said about Jude Christian’s new production of Shakespeare’s bloody and violent play.

(c)Camilla Greenwell

The Stage: *** “Jude Christian’s inventive production of Shakespeare’s brutal revenge tragedy eschews gratuitous violence.”

The Guardian: **** “For all the hilarious busyness, it’s a mark of the production’s intelligence that its two most shocking moments arise from the text itself. There’s an audible gasp as Tamora’s Moorish lover (owned by Kibong Tanji with a sexualised swagger) is dismissed to his face as “swart … spotted, detested, and abominable”. A shocked silence greets the introduction of the mutilated Lavinia by her own uncle with the words “this was thy daughter”.”

Broadway World: ***** “Overall, though, this is a fresh and exciting take on what is often seen as Shakespeare’s most juvenile work. The comedy leavens the horror without taking away its impact: the audience still reel in the bloody final scene which sees Tamora’s sons served up for dinner and four characters fatally stabbed.” 

The Upcoming: *** “Christian’s Titus Andronicus is, as such, a general success. It is frequently amusing with a good sense of humour and generally strong performances that carry the play. But it’s a thin line between a genuine satire and an outright burlesque – and this production does occasionally overstep the mark. Nevertheless, it’s thoroughly entertaining for an audience that can stomach the serious themes.”

iNews: ** “Christian is a smart, innovative director. No doubt this concept sounded interesting in development. In practice, it’s a distracting conceit that undermines all else that is promising in this production. There are talented actors in her all female / non-binary cast. Perhaps restricting them to candle puppetry at the height of Shakespeare’s violence was intended to focus and delineate the play’s uncomfortable truths about human cruelty. Instead, it strips away these actors’ best opportunities to engage directly with one another.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “It might be that we don’t feel the characters’ pain as viscerally in not seeing them writhe and bleed, but it shifts the focus to the stark shock of the moment of death and the surrounding anguish. It’s a riveting spectacle, and the bold originality of Jude Christian’s directorial vision is truly admirable.”

Jonathan * “Titus Andronicus was Shakespeare’s first tragedy and his most viciously violent play. Done well, it can blend horror, humour and pathos into an evening of troubling yet moving entertainment. Jude Christian’s production however at the Wanamaker Playhouse (that theatre’s first Titus) is a pretentious attempt to sanitise the fabled gore, replacing blood and injuries with dumbed-down interpretation and chopped-up candles, playing for laughs at times when none are required, reducing the Bard’s brilliance to banality.”

Titus Andronicus continues to play until the 15th April.

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