I have never resented a show so much for the hour I lost in enduring it. I pity the people who also paid in money as well as minutes. The only positive thing about the show was its venue’s proximity to Cowgate’s busy roundabout so I had some heavy traffic to play in after the show.
The audience was clearly comprised purely of friends of the cast: this was made evident on two occasions. Firstly: in-jokes. The actor playing Lucius quipped, ‘We all know Shakespearean tragedies have happy endings, right Sam?’ ‘That’s right’, answered Sam, seated in the front row. Secondly, targeted advertising for other shows. Plonkus (no, seriously) a son of Tamora (who in this version is inexplicably called Kaine) says ‘Sorry we’re late, we got stopped by this group of incredibly well-dressed people who gave us all this paper’, before holding up flyers advertising The Pirates of Penzance. Given that the majority of the audience were dressed as pirates, I saw fairly quickly what was going on.
I felt like the only uninitiated member at the gathering of a particularly humourless cult. I would have felt left out but I’m not sure I wanted to be involved.
I thought it couldn’t get any worse: then they started singing. Lucius and Kaine’s eldest son Narcissus - who are embroiled in a gay subplot that I’m not even going to comment on - duet on ‘I Know Him So Well’. They cannot hold a tune. It is unfortunate. Narcissus also speaks in cod Confucius-style platitudes such as ‘Heavy is the tree that has heavy branches’. Ridiculously melodramatic performances were the least of this cast’s concerns.
Sweaty innuendo coated every line of speech. Here is an example: Kaine does something sassy; Titus exclaims ‘I like a woman with spunk’; she replies ‘I don’t have any spunk’; he says, ‘Would you like some?’ Then they have sex behind the giant pie her sons are cooked inside. Then Lucius and Narcissus walk in. Then there may be another musical number, I couldn’t tell because I had my head in my hands.
Lavinia (who is called Alexandra in this version) is a bratty sex fiend who squalls ‘DADDY’ far too frequently. After her rape and mutilation, in which her tongue is cut out and her hands sliced off, she appears onstage in a bald cap with full vocal capacity. Then each time she enters she is wearing a variety of extravagant wigs.
I get occasional stress nosebleeds in reaction to emotional or physical trauma. I got a stress nosebleed from the sheer anxiety of this show. Yeah, that happened. Titus happened. I was there. I wish I wasn’t.