Titus Andronicus. Shakespeare's Globe, London. April 2014.
This was always a play I was nervous about seeing - it was a set text in my first term and even reading it made me feel a bit queasy. It is beyond violent.
This version of Titus Andronicus was first staged in 2006 and has the reputation for being the play that caused the most faints at The Globe, I'm not sure if it is urban legend or not but the figure of 40 is banded around an awful lot.
Having read the play I was at least aware when the really gory bits were going to happen, and thanks to the directing choices they were usually signposted clearly so I had plenty of time to shut my eyes (and cover my ears!) which helped. I also liked the way that humour was added to the play with the choices of style given to Tamora and Aaron which again helped to relieve the violence.
Having studied more about the theatre of Shakespeare's time I did wince a little at the extensive use made of the Groundling area by the actors, and I do think that the scaffolding cages were over-used - just a little too much of the action became invisible from the Upper Gallery, luckily for us this was mostly empty the day we visited so we were able to move around, stand and lean so as not to miss anything.
As for the fainting, well yes it is gory but I think that the smoke and incense that is constantly being wafted around the Groundling area, along with the cloth covers not letting it escape may have a lot more to do with this - luckily being so high up most of this had dispersed before it reached us, but I know the smell of that would have made me feel unwell, possibly quicker than the gore!
I'm really glad that I plucked up the courage to see the play, but I don't think it is one I will want to see again - or that I'll buy the DVD of it should it be released. I'm just too squeamish.
And no - even after a week we haven't considered having pie for dinner!
The stage covering
Mopping the blood from the stage in the interval