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Blood and brilliance in a rare staging.

Byline: Keith Newton

What: Titus Andronicus

Where: Theatre Royal, Newcastle

When: Until Saturday

Verdict: Blood and brilliance in a disturbingly watchable production

If you are looking for blood, you have come to the right place. It drips, it drops, it splashes and it pours.

Grown men have fainted at previous performances. The death and brutality counts are both way off the scale.

The Royal Shakespeare Company's final main house production in their North-east season is the least well-known and most challenging. The blood lust sees character after character die. One is also raped and mutilated.

Titus cuts off a hand to save two sons and is given it back with their heads, then watches as a mother eats her dead sons whom he has baked in a pie. Yet we are still surprised by the further deaths which come close to the end.

Titus is hardly ever staged but it was received last night with the rapture of a warm and welcome old friend.

David Bradley, Argus Filch from the Harry Potter films, handles the contradictions of Titus - an aged, war-weary Roman general now facing shocking new threats - with a precise and delicate assurance. Maureen Beattie rises imperiously to malevolent heights as Tamora, his former captive and now rival in a power struggle.

Eve Myles is an eloquently mute Lavinia, Ian Gelder a calmingly assertive Marcus, and John Lloyd Fillingham a compulsively twitchy and camp Emperor Saturninus.
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Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Ents Theatre Arts
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2003
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