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Titus Andronicus review at New Wimbledon Studio – ‘budget effects, but strong attention to language’

Matthew Ward in Titus Andronicus at New Wimbledon Studio. Photo: Zoltan Almasi Matthew Ward in Titus Andronicus at New Wimbledon Studio. Photo: Zoltan Almasi
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Often considered Shakespeare’s least accomplished of plays, Titus Andronicus is indeed probably his goriest, in keeping with the penchant for bloody tragedy of the period. Arrows and Traps’ production is a relatively bloodless affair that still manages enough shock moments, but eschews the bloodbath effects in favour of some pretty decent spoken prose and verse dialogue.

Ross McGregor’s direction is a little scatty at first, with music, dialogue and video all vying for our attention at once. As the gruesome revenge cycle unfolds, however, the large cast embrace the potency of the story and characters gradually fall lucidly into place. McGregor treads a fine line between accessible and facile and the scenes incorporating social media, gaming and pizza just look out of place, despite a generally contemporary design.

Matthew Ward’s stately, almost gentle Titus slips gradually into a madness that is truly terrifying, while Elizabeth Appleby’s Tamora hints that she was a fairly ruthless ruler anyway, before vengeance becomes her obsession. There are also considered performances from Spencer Lee Osborne as the conflicted moor Aaron, whose sudden fatherhood changes the direction of the play, and Remy Moynes as Lavinia, who manages to articulate the outrage of her tragedy with genuine horror.

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Verdict
Budget effects, but strong editing and attention to the language just about save this most gory of Shakespeare's tragedies
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