Brave tilt at ‘‘Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus’’

The Tribune (NZ) - - CONVERSATIONS - RICHARD MAYS

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.

PHOTO: SUP­PLIED

‘‘Ti­tus An­dron­i­cus’’ di­rec­tor Aaron McLean, who as Mar­cus An­dron­i­cus, com­forts his niece Lavinia played by Miriam Tucker.

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