Smooth Faced Gentlemen have subverted the original performance conditions of Shakespeare’s plays, which were all-male productions, and have tackled his bloodiest tragedy,
Smooth Faced Gentlemen’s daring and energetic performance not only subverts gender roles: its modernity and gendering should also win round anyone who thinks Shakespeare isn’t for them.
Their visually evocative production reminds us how much Titus Andronicus is not only a battle of words, but also a battle of bodies. Fabi Williams and Ellie Thomas’ large-scale set design works well alongside Natalie McCormack’s costumes, adding a certain flavour of Game of Thrones.
Whilst Enric Ortuño’s fight sequences need cleaning up to ensure more fluidity in the staging, all of the actresses manage to challenge even the most masculine of male actors in their roles. Particular performances to note are firstly Anita-Joy Uwajeh as Aaron. Vocally perfect, her depth and intelligence on emphasising specific words, giving clarity to what could sound foreign to audiences, makes her a natural standout. The other notable performer is Emily Bairstow as Tamora. Even with little facial expression, her ability to create raw emotion solely through her eyes is impressive.
Smooth Faced Gentlemen’s daring and energetic performance not only subverts gender roles: its modernity and gendering should also win round anyone who thinks Shakespeare isn’t for them. Despite some messy choreography, this is not your typical Shakespeare production, in the best possible way.