2 comments

  1. Hi James. I’m really enjoying your podcasts, particularly your review of the Globe’s Titus Andronicus. I live in Harlow so I get to go to the the Globe frequently as I think it is by far the best way to enjoy (particularly) Shakespeare, and at £5 a pop for world-class entertainment at the best vantage point, there is no comparison. I particularly enjoyed your review of Titus Andronicus- I had a groundling ticket in 2006 and found it so exhilarating that I went back a few times. What I particularly loved about it was the build up of tension in the first half, followed by the tense farce of the second, finally resulting in the jolly jig at the end that broke all the tension so you left the theatre with the biggest smile. I don’t know if you noticed but after such a gruesome play people left the theatre very happy and smiley. That takes some doing!
    I have seen the 2014 performance twice, once with one of my 14 year-old sons, and am going back in July with the other. I’d love to hear your views on how you how see the play ranks in your Shakespeare playlist. Personally I find the play very weak (no surprise there!) but this Lucy Pinder production turns it into by far the best Shakespeare performance I have ever experienced. I’d be interested to hear your views on that subject.
    Anyway, please continue the podcasts. They are much appreciated.

    1. Hi Paul,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We are of one mind when with regard to the current Titus at the Globe. I think it is a very special production indeed and I will be heading back to see it again in the near future. I agree with you about the subtle handling of mood (forgive me if I’m repeating my review – can’t remember everything I said) and I think I was one of the people beaming when we spilled out onto Bankside.

      As for my “Shakespeare playlist”, which is a very neat phrase that I’ll be purloining from you, I find it difficult to separate page from stage in this instance. When I read the play for the first time a year or two back it had an introduction that fought passionately for its theatrical virtue. The editor, Jonathan Bate, quoted Peter Brook’s ‘open letter to William Shakespeare’, published in The Times in 1957 during/after Brook’s production featuring Laurence Olivier:

      ‘When the notices of Titus Andronicus came out, giving us full marks for saving your dreadful play, I could not help feeling a twinge of guilt. For to tell the truth it had not occurred to any of us in rehearsal that the play was so bad.’

      When I came to write the first podcast in this series, I argued similarly for its experimental, risk-taking brilliance.

      But I’m evading your question. Lucy Bailey’s Titus is sublime and is my new favourite Shakespeare production. The script probably ranks in the middle third of Sh’s canon in my view, but it is so different from so many of the others that that ranking doesn’t nearly convey the esteem in which I hold this rude, horrifying, electric tragedy.

      J

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