Titus Andronicus (2002): Kaos Theatre
PrTitus Andronicus (2002)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Lee Beagley (Titus Andronicus); Guy Burgess (Aaron, Bassianus); Jack Corcoran (Lucius, Chiron, Martius); Jane Hartley (Lavinia); Ralf Higgins (Demetrius, Mutius, Quintus); Peter Holmes (Marcus Andronicus); Lisa Tramontin (Tamora, Nurse); Jake Oldershaw (Saturnius – sic, Publius).
This production played at the Riverside Studios from 7 - 23 February 2002 and at the Theatre Royal, Bath as part of the Bath Shakespeare Festival from 4 - 16 March 2002.
"Just as Shakespeare's characters hack each other to pieces in his macabre Roman tragedy, so Kaos physical theatre company merrily butchers his text....Xavier Leret's direction is more about shock tactics than it is about story telling. In fact, it's aptly billed as a clown's bloodbath....Apart from the deluge of blood, the most striking thing about this unsavoury exercise in theatre of cruelty is Sarah Blenkinsop's set. This is a white-tiled abbatoir fitted with rusty steel sliding-doors which clang open and shut as actors are vomited onto the stage in various stages of emotional, physical and mental distress. Inset into the structure is a glass-fronted cage of the sort in which they keep reptiles at the zoo....The acting is entirely freestyle, with lots of mugging and running around in frenzies of hyper-mania. Thus you have Lee Beagley giving us loony, Lear-like derangement as the devastated Titus, alongside Guy Burgess bigging it up as a yardie lover of the Gothic Empress. Meanwhile, Jack Corcoran and Ralf Higgins lay on a couple of pillage idiots cackling over their orgies of evisceration." ~ Patrick Marmion, Evening Standard, 8 February 2002, in Theatre Record XXII (2002), Issue 3.
"Yet Leret's wayward ludicrous touches - including a Basil Brush puppet in the hunting scene which precedes the worst horrors - are oddly in touch with this play's delirious sense of black comedy." ~ Kate Bassett, "Who'd be an empress if this is how you're remembered?", Independent on Sunday, 10 February 2002.
"The director Xavier Leveret puts his Romans in rather tacky modern dress (Queen Tamora wears black PVC trousers and high-heeled boots; her lover, Aaron the Moor, a Nike T-shirt and rhinestone dollar-sign pendant). The Jamaican accent of Guy Burgess may lend Aaron contemporaneity, but at the cost of scansion and intelligibility." ~ Rhoda Koenig, "On the gorepath", Independent, 12 February 2002.
"Even blackamoor Aaron, usually the pantomime villain, is made a template of bitterness by Guy Burgess, echoing the race hate of his enemies with tirades of self-loathing and defiance." ~ Helen Chappell, What's On, 13 February 2002, in Theatre Record XXII (2002), Issue 3.
"...while Guy Burgess is almost pantomimically villainous as Aaron, the Moorish proto-Iago." ~ Dominic Maxwell, Time Out, 13 February 2002, in Theatre Record XXII (2002), Issue 3.
"The brothers are easily manipulated by Aaron the Moor, a classic Jacobean malcontent played by Guy Burgess as a Jamaican gangsta." ~ Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times, 11 February 2002, in Theatre Record XXII (2002), Issue 3.
"Xavier Leret's Kaos Theatre staging of Titus Andronicus...fails to illuminate Shakespeare's bloody revenge tragedy...Leret seems to see it as simply a casualty report with verse....This production has...Aaron the Moor, as a Jamaican yardie. But any contemporary resonance in such issues as the treatment of prisoners or eye-for-an-eye killings is lost in a series of shock tactics and confused storytelling with a cast overextended in multiple roles." ~ Ian Johns, The Times, 18 February 2002, in Theatre Record XXII (2002), Issue 3.