The Tragedy of Titus

Unlike some Shakespeare adaptations doing the rounds, this slimmed-down Titus Andronicus is surprisingly well-cut. Clipping the Bard's most adolescent play to less than an hour like this does take out some of its tragic sweep and grandeur, but what's left behind is coherent and has all limbs intact, rather unlike its characters.However, limpid attempts at physical theatre, some faltering performances and an unconvincing aesthetic hold The Tragedy of Titus back.The production tries to harness a kind of 'street' modernity, with tracksuited Goths (the type of barbarian, not the Cradle of Filth kind) and string-vested Romans often engaging in naffly choreographed fisticuffs. For a play whose core is gruesome and unrestrained violence, these scenes should have been given more thought – the producion's physicality hangs awkwardly between realistic and stylised violence (including Zack Snyder-esque slo-mo swipes), never quite embodying either. This is a big problem.It manifests itself most obviously in the pivotal rape of Lavinia. It turns out that Shakespeare's decision to keep the act off-stage was actually pretty sound. Here it was squirmingly uncomfortable to watch, not so much because of its being a staged rape (which would also be uncomfortable to watch, but in a different way), but because it was half-heartedly done. Lavinia writhes in her underwear and is thrown around in a kind of dance which is neither strident nor energetic enough to symbolise rape, and certainly not brutal enough to represent it more straightforwardly.Surrounding the lacklustre physicality are unsubtle performances, which oscillate between suppressed and unsuppressed anger. Lavinia is especially obnoxious and grating, delivering her plea for mercy to Tamora like it's abuse and ruining the pathos of her ravishment. The rest of the cast fall follow suit with lines equally misunderstood, though Lucius Andronicus (who has here also absorbed the part of Marcus) does do rather well.This is a play which failed at quite an early level, but underneath there is at least a functional adaptation of the script for somebody else to perform in future.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

Supported by the RSC Open Stages Project, HeadLock Theatre's debut is an emotionally charged adaptation of Shakespeare's most brutal play. A highly energetic and gripping exploration of instinct's triumph over reason, not to be missed.

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