Brave tilt at ‘‘Titus Andronicus’’
Challenging as this violent play is for a whole host of reasons, this largely young company shows plenty of pluck in taking it on.
Young director Aaron McLean has been bold in his choice of play and its staging, and while not everything comes off, enough works to make this bloodthirsty saga a compelling experience.
Led by the seasoned Bruce Sinclair as the doomed general Titus - saviour of Rome, younger members of the cast step up in this deftly edited version of the play, to deliver a well thought-out
and fluent production on a mostly bare stage.
Given the intimate nature of the theatre space and the limited production budget, there are remarkably few moments when the suspension of disbelief loses its hold.
Necks are broken, there are stabbings, hands are chopped off, a tongue is cut out, and there is a rape - but these are cleverly staged, with the dead bodies, their faces shrouded, removing themselves in a ritual fashion.
While Sinclair anchors the show, there are other excellent characterisations. Cameron Dickons makes an impressive statement as Aaron, the blackhearted paramour of Tamora, Goth queen and newly-wed empress of Rome, played by Verena McKenzie.
If Aaron is a prototype Iago, Tamora is an early Lady Macbeth, and McKenzie is suitably arch, confident and off-hand, rolling with the latitude she is afforded.
William Eddy and Isaac O’Hagan who play Tamora’s shaggy, oafish and bickering sons Chiron and Demetrius, hunt their victims like a pair of untrained and unrestrained pitbulls. Miriam Tucker cultivates a haunting presence as the mutilated, mute and debauched Lavinia.
Sam Wyss as Lucius, son of Titus, builds in stature as the play progresses; there is plenty of self-possession from Liam Robson as the lustful brawling emperor Saturninus, while McLean shows maturity as Marcus Andronicus.
As for the pantomime Big Bad Wolf ‘s head in the opening scene - it wouldn’t be missed.
‘‘Titus Andronicus’’ director Aaron McLean, who as Marcus Andronicus, comforts his niece Lavinia played by Miriam Tucker.