Shakespeare’s Globe opened its 2014 summer season with a revisiting of Lucy Bailey’s hugely successful Titus Andronicus.
Audience members were warned in advance of its grisly content with the offer of witnessing one of the darkest and most seminal productions in the Globe’s history. In the height of summer in 2006 dozens of people who bought standing tickets fainted each show. Fainting isn’t exactly uncommon amongst Globe groundlings (£5 standing ticket holders) so, “our front of house staff are very well trained,” said a Globe spokesperson.
Grotesquely violent and daringly experimental, Titus was the smash hit of Shakespeare’s early career, “written with a ghoulish energy he was never to repeat. “It stars William Houston as the unstable Roman general Titus and Indira Varma as the haughty Goth Queen Tamora in what one critic described as ‘Tarantino-esque’.
Playing Lavinia, Titus’s daughter, actress Flora Spencer-Longhurst has her tongue and hands cut off after she is raped. “Despite my character having her tongue ripped out, it is the most articulate role I have ever played!” she told The Daily Mail.
On one particular evening alone it was reported that five people had fainted. The Independent’s Holly Williams wrote, “A confession: I fainted. I’m not alone. Audience members are dropping like flies at this revival of Lucy Bailey’s infamously gory 2006 staging.”
Escaping the bloodshed on Saturday for the final performance, I dodged raindrops and left this sketch at the stage door, which Williams, Indira and Flora kindly signed for me, without spilling a drop of red stuff on it.