Titus Andronicus was a dual first: its first production at Stratford and Brian Bedford’s debut as director. He brought to it the qualities associated with his acting—acute intelligence, a close scanning of the text, a taut and disciplined exposition. He made his actors inhabit their lines, and the production had clarity and lucidity throughout. It was not uniformly successful, however, owing partly to the limitations of certain of the cast, partly to Bedford’s sense of the task before him. The problem with this text is to harness its primitive energies to a disciplined and serious execution that avoids the excesses of grand Guignol. Bedford well understood this, and set his sights on restraint, control, and avoidance(granting one or two overtly comic passages) of anything that might cause the audience to laugh in the wrong place. This policy brought in strategic gains, and incurred its losses in passages that called for greater voltage than Bedford was ready to permit. I cannot imagine a more restrained Titus than this one…William Hutt’s Conqueror was tired, lacking passion, somewhat bored with it all … Patriarchy was the keystone of Titus’ system of values … So far so good. But now weaknesses took form. Tamora must project an electric sensuality; as early as “Sufficeth not that we are brought to Rome/To beautify thy triumphs …” she is making a play for a protector. This effect Jennifer Phipps failed to achieve. There was no theatrically obvious reason why this overweight matron should captivate the Emperor, and none emerged in the II.iii encounter with Aaron. This was staged with an unbelievable lack of passion… The stage dynamics of sex and violence are not identical; if the director holds back on one, moreover, it makes sense to strengthen the charge in the other.
KeywordsElectric Sensuality Stage Dynamic Puppet Show Great Voltage Dangerous Sexuality
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