Studio 013 brings Shakespeare’s most gruesome play to life

Cast of Titus Andronicus gives their blood, and tears to the performance 

Titus Andronicus is playing at The Box from March 7 to 9.
Credit: 
Supplied by Studio 013

Studio 013’s production of Shakespeare’s most violent play relishes in all the gory details. 

Titus Andronicus is running at The Box in the H’art Centre from March 7 to 9. Centered around Roman general Titus, the play begins with the titular character executing the Queen’s son after returning to Rome from war. She swears revenge against him, launching the tale into action.

The conflict soon escalates to war, rape, honor killings, and cannibalism. The characters show no mercy and no sense of morality, everything is fair game; no cost is too great. Through the play’s many traumatic events, the cast delivers a series of convincing performances.

Among the standouts, lead actor Lucas Cmok Kehoe gives a strong performance as Titus Andronicus. He conveys both the threatening energy of a gruff army general, and the despair of a man losing his sanity. 

Meanwhile, Christian Milanovic as Marcus Andronicus, Titus’ brother and voice of reason, shows how much time and attention to detail was spent on character work in the rehearsal stages. Not only is his performance commanding, but it thrives on details, like laboriously carries his weight while limping along with a cane.

Performances aside, the show’s production, particularly the lighting and sound, is a selling point in the play’s depiction of the war between Romans and Goths. 

Bright yellows and greens portray a sunny afternoon in the woods, while darker reds present the insides of dimly lit rooms. During the most intense scenes, lights shine a harsh crimson, while shrill, ambient music plays in the background.

Adding more intensity to the fight scenes, the actors’ sword props are frighteningly realistic. When they clash, they make loud clanging noises that echo through the theatre. It’s on display as Titus betrays Saturninus’ expectations and the latter must defend his honor, leading to a climatic duel. 

The loud impact of the swords reinforce the stakes of this life or death battle, and the nimble movements of the actors make for an engrossing fight.  The costume and prop design teams’ excessive use of the fake blood also contributes to creating a gory, tense production.

With the copious amounts of fake blood pouring from injured characters, the crimson lighting during fight scenes, and the bright red Roman soldier uniforms, the design team’s use of  colour reflects the abrasive violence consistent throughout the play. 

The red uniforms of the Romans contrasted with the black uniforms of the Goths—amplifying the tension of their conflict through color alone. In the second half of the play, this separation through colour is dropped when loyalties, especially amongst the Romans, begin to fade and alliances become unclear. 

The production revels in the script’s darker themes, with blood-curdling screams filling the room during the most gruesome scenes.

The time and effort that both the cast and production team put into every gory detail of the show have created a unique experience, as the suspense and despair of it can only be found in a tragedy like Titus Andronicus.

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