The bard’s Ti­tus re­told as fairy­tale


Game of Thrones and Quentin Tarantino owe Wil­liam Shake­speare big time.

That’s ac­cord­ing to young Palmer­ston North the­atre di­rec­tor Aaron McLean, who is putting to­gether a pro­duc­tion of Shake­speare’s gori­est play Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus. ’’There are 14 deaths, nine of them on­stage, a dou­ble rape and can­ni­bal­ism. It’s been called Shake­speare’s Tarantino mo­ment.’’

There are also mu­ti­la­tions and dis­fig­ure­ments. It’s an all-out blood feud.

McLean said he doesn’t watch Game of Thrones but that scene in sea­son six when Arya Stark had the two Frey boys baked in a pie, was straight out of Ti­tus. ‘‘I wanted to see if there was more to the play than sim­ply gra­tu­itous vi­o­lence. It’s a pow­er­ful tragedy of a man who gives up ev­ery­thing for his coun­try, and is ru­ined for it.’’

The play ex­plores the im­pact vi­o­lence has on peo­ple and what hap­pens when they de­hu­man­ise their en­e­mies in­stead of regarding them as hu­man be­ings. Pa­tri­o­tism, duty, hon­our and tra­di­tion man­age to su­per­sede all no­tions of de­cency and hu­man­ity. ‘‘There is a grow­ing re­al­i­sa­tion dur­ing the play by its char­ac­ters that ev­ery­thing they were brought up to be­lieve is wrong.’’

Ti­tus is a fic­ti­tious Ro­man gen­eral and hon­oured hero who was of­fered the im­pe­rial pur­ple, but re­fused it. It is all down­hill for him and his fam­ily from there.

The cos­tumes are to be based around an­i­mal mo­tifs as be­fit­ting the some­what vis­ceral na­ture of a play that also in­volves Goths.

De­feated af­ter 10 years of war by Ti­tus, the Goth queen Tamora lives to wreak venge­ful havoc. ‘‘I want it to be dark like the orig­i­nal Grimm’s fairy­tales.’’

The ti­tle role is played by Bruce Sin­clair, with Jackie McKen­zie as the las­civ­i­ous Tamora.

Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus is on in The Dark Room for six 7.30pm per­for­mances over two weeks from Thurs­day un­til Satur­day, Au­gust 12.


Miriam Tucker and Aaron McLean from the Dark Room pro­duc­tion of Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus.

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