New theatre company Fractious Tash presents a new take on Shakespeare’s most violent work and it is both a gripping and terrifying experience. Dark and gritty with a generous serving of bloodshed, mutilation and even cannibalism, this intense adaptation is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Titus tells the story of Roman army general Titus Andronicus and how he finds himself in a twisted, vicious cycle of revenge and murder with Tamora, the Queen of the Goths. Under the masterful direction of Benjamin Henson, this five hundred year old macabre tragedy gets a contemporary makeover with brilliant use of pop culture, tongue-in-cheek creative choices and a hauntingly superb atmospheric set.
In contrast the dialogue is still delivered in the authentic Shakespearean style which does take a while to get used to initially but the story is easy enough to sink your teeth in to which is a credit to the well crafted script and also the exceptional performances by the all-male cast. All recent graduates from Unitec, these actors are skilled performers, each embodying their characters effortlessly with raw authenticity and great conviction.
Paul Lewis is well cast as the titular character, brilliantly conveying Titus’ unraveling insanity whilst the villainous Tamora is performed with staggering credibility by Cole Jenkins. I also found Eli Mathewson’s portrayal of the ill-fated Lavinia particularly stirring. The actors as a collective are a well-oiled machine, perfectly complementing one another and feeding off each others’ energy.
Stylistically, this play is a visual treat – kudos to the creative team for an outstanding effort. The lighting and chilling sound design work well in further enhancing the spooky-looking set and these elements all come together as one to create a genuinely scary and unsettling atmosphere.
Titus is a slick and impressive production with a stellar cast and is really Shakespeare as you have never seen before. It is brutal and shocking, visually arresting and emotionally charged – a truly immersive and visceral theatrical experience.
The Whimsical Banana rates Titus: 5/5 bananas!
Titus is at the Loft at Q until June 8th – click here for tickets.