REVIEW: Monash Shakespeare Company’s TITUS

Ferocity unleashed

By Amy Planner

Violence has many forms and this production holds no punches in exploring the history of humanity and our gravitational attraction to that violence. Written and directed by James Jackson, Monash Shakespeare Company presents Titus, a non-conventional and radical reworking of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.


Broken down in to three distinct acts, Titus explores the Shakespearean tragedy in a vastly postmodernist way. The focus in its many forms is violence; Act I presents The Symbolic in an almost wordless adaptation, Act II delves in to The Objective with a script-ridden dialogue surge, and Act III tackles The Subjective in a physical exercise of rather ferocious proportions.

In true post-modernist form,  Titus does away with answers and instead raises many deep-seeded and philosophical questions about humanity, honour, love, family and violence.

The small cast (Elizabeth Brennan, Emily Stokes, Lindsay Templeton, Meaghan Laurie and Tom Molyneaux) offered a range of talents and although some performers were stronger than others, there were a number of memorable moments. The lighting was stark but appropriate and the use of sound and music created an eerie ambiance.

Designed by Nathan Burmeister, he unique staging comprised of a beach-worth of sand, a brick or two and metres of Dexter-esque plastic lining the spray painted walls. The distinctive take on Shakespeare was matched only by the interesting use of space. Unfortunately, the meekly tiered seating did leave those behind the front row gasping for news on the activity happening down front, but were left out of the loop.

Being ready for the metaphysical interpretation did not prepare for the blitzkrieg of symbolism, figurative actions, metaphorical moments and deluge of questions thrown at the audience in rapid succession. Perhaps a more defined focus on one or two theatrical elements would have allowed the unsuspecting audience to follow the hasty plot and really grab a hold of some of those big subjects.

If you play shy to a bucket-load of blood, have a phobia of sand or hold on to haunting memories of the dreaded Beep Test then perhaps Titus isn’t for you. But if you are in need of a little philosophical punch to the face through a never-before-seen Shakespearean awakening, then Titus should be right up your postmodernist alley.

Titus by Monash Shakespeare Company
Season: 9-12 and 14-18 July 2015 7.30pm (2pm show on 11th July)
Venue: Second Story Studios, 3/159 Sackville Street Collingwood
Tickets: $21 Full, $17 Concession, $15 MSC Member

Image by Sarah Walker and Debbie Yew