Lucy Bailey, whose production of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus at the Globe is reviewed in many of the weekend papers, says that she finds the play “relevant to so many things going on in the world today.”
An attempt to find similarities between themes in renaissance or classical drama and the doings of Bush and Blair seems to be the stock in trade these days for those trying to drum up some interest in their productions. But in addition to finding enough similarities with events in Iraq Bailey has the usual problem with “Titus”– it is a very early and unpolished effort by the Bard and very, very violent.
The set has been “jazzed up”: The pillars in the Globe covered in fabric and a temporary roof installed. Knowing that the London audience will respond to Ken Livingstone references, the Clown and pigeon scene seems to be rather a gift to the director. In addition, with the action not confined to stage,but spilling out into the groundling pit, Kate Bassett is also able to suggest in The Independent that: Rome’s biggest problem appears to be traffic congestion
Throughout the play the audience are subjected to football-stadium chants – suggesting that this is an Italy which is more Di canio than De Chirico; although as Basset finds, the reality is rather a let-down as, Thanks to terrible wigs and make-up, the raping and murdering Goths look like Bay City Rollers auditioning to play the Cowardly Lion.
So (Stoppers, never say I don’t arrive bearing gifts) how do you make a tale which contains : 14 killings, 9 of them on stage, 6 severed members, at least one 1 rape, 1 case of live burial, 1 of insanity and everybody’s favourite theatre moment: the scene where sons are baked in a pie and fed to their mother (an average of 5.2 atrocities per act, or one for every 97 lines) into a play about George Bush?
Now get your thinking-caps on for a little multi-tasking. Which world-historical events do you predict for the year ahead, and which plays (or films) should be revived in order to provide the overtaxed minds of theatre directors with analogies? (You can suggest cast members as well if you like.)