Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Titanic production

Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus

A Titanic production

By Elaine McFadyen
Titus Andronicus – The Japanese Way: Ninewagwa's stylised cross-cultural production of Shakespeare's bloody tragedy takes the audience deep into a nightmare well of rape, revenge, mutilation, murder and cannibalism.

What the audience said

"It was fabulous - everything about it, the whole concept" - Shirley from Newton Ferrers

"Fantastic, the style, staging and the elegance, I thought it was absolutely amazing" - Jane from Noss Mayo.

"It was the most stunning stage production I've seen for a long time. Completely compelling with great performances, and a fantastic set. It deserved the standing ovation it received." - Sue from Plymouth.

Titus Andronicus
Theatre Royal, Plymouth
Until 1st July
Tickets: £10-£22
Box Office: 01752 257622

Hugely energetic and physical, the vast cast pulls no punches telling the tale of the victorious Roman General Andronicus and Tamora, the defeated Queen of the Goths.

Scene from Titus Andronicus
Kotaro Yoshida as Andronicus

Even though all the blood is symbolically shown with flowing red silk ribbons and severed heads and limbs are non-realistic, the relentless violence still hits you hard.

In the title role as the grizzled war veteran is Kotaro Yoshida, Japan's leading Shakespearean actor, along with the stunning Rei Asami as the vengeful Queen.

Producer Thelma Holt has described Tamora as pure Joan Collins and the Queen certainly is a venomous woman!

Designer Lily Komine dresses her in elegant slender white gowns and inky black feathers, with perfectly arched eyebrows and gore red lipstick. Like the Lady in the "Scottish Play", while the men charge into bloody action, she quietly contrives and manipulates her way to vengeance.

Pin-up Pretty…but Vile

Titus Andronicus
Shun Oguri and Rei Asami as Aaron and Tamora

Shun Oguri as Aaron her lover held me spell bound. In a very lively performance, he leaps and runs across the stage proudly exposing his tattooed torso.

He glares and stares with completely OTT villainy, while spewing torrents of vengeful, unrepentant dialogue… which you will either love or loathe…I loved it!

With a cast of 30, the production is very loud and aggressive and it is hard work for the audience who have to read sur-titles while listening to fiercely staccato Japanese dialogue and not missing any of the extreme visual drama of the production...but it's worth it, believe me.

The director makes inventive use of the whole stage area and the cast often enters running in from the aisles and stairs. Warning!… if you are in the front rows you might feel just a bit too close to the action as the orchestra pit is covered by steps to extend the stage and you will be inches away from the performers.

Ninegawa's Titus Andronicus is operatic in its scale and I feel very privileged to have seen it here in Plymouth. The Theatre Royal’s relationship with Thelma Holt means we get to feast on such treats right here while the rest of the UK has to go to Stratford.

Often conservative in their applause, the appreciative house was on its feet and gave the cast the resounding ovation it had earned.

last updated: 30/06/06

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