I was very keen to see this production, as I have been fascinated since the first tme I saw it in 2000. At that production, I went in cold, knowing nothing about the play at all. I remember leaving the theatre stunned by the violence and amazed by the staging and effects needed to chop off hands and heads, never mind the killing.
The Julie Taymor film of the play (Titus) was brilliant and beautiful, but again I left the theatre feeling that I had been smacked. Since that time I have read and reread the play, seen a couple of other revenge tragedies and been to a lecture that suggested that Titus Anmdronicus is actually a comic play and not a revenge tragedy – comic in the sense that the violence is so over the top that it is like watching a comic book with all the little action boxes “pow” “bang” etc.
This production did not disappoint me. I was captured from the beginning, but remained sufficiently aware of my surroundings to hear the gasps from the audience as someo fht e more gruesome scenes occurred. I even noticed one man put his sweater over his head and refuse to watch any more. ( He did not return for the second act, although his wife did).
Enough preamble, to the production itself. It moved along quicly as it must if it is to have any hope of keeping the audience with it. The effects were good, the jokes were pointed (especially the one with the arrows – wathc for it!) and the cast was strong.
I liked Jon Vickery as Titus and I loved Sean Arbuckle as Saturninus. Dion Johnstone made Aaron a human, not just a monster, although perhaps in this production an over the top caricature might hve been more appropriate.
Both leading women were very strong, especially Claire Lautier as Tamora. Amanda Lisman was actually more agressive than my image of Lavinia at the beginning and at the end too for that matter. Brendan Murray and Bruce Godfree were over the top as the insane and evil Chiron and Demetrius.
The audience loved it and gave a semi standing ovation. But for most actors it was probably a pretty good day when you could go home and say you had a standing ovation from Christopher Plummer who was in the front row.