Episode 12 - Titus Andronicus

10.08.2019 - By The Bicks Do...Shakespeare

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Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare's bloodiest plays, set around the Roman revenge tragedy of its titular character and the fateful fall of his family.
Along with most of the other characters as well.
S. Clarke Hulse, in his essay "Wresting the Alphabet: Oratory and Action in 'Titus Andronicus'", counts "14 killings, 9 of them on stage, 6 severed members, 1 rape (or 2 or 3, depending on how you count), 1 live burial, 1 case of insanity and 1 of cannibalism—an average of 5.2 atrocities per act, or one for every 97 lines." It can be a supremely challenging play to read and watch, in spite of its short length, and the distate for this play permeates its production history; it fell out of favour in the 18th and 19th century and is still considered one of Shakespeare's least-popular plays.
But if you can set aside the discomforting facts of the gruesome murders committed its 2500 or so lines, there are some interesting things being presented here. The conflation of civilized Rome and barbaric Goths, rape and revenge, the role of women as either mothers or monsters/virgins or whores, and the weaponization of language are all fascinating avenues of entry into the horror of the Bard's ancient Roman revenge fantasy.
In Marriage Counselling, Aidan and Lindsay debate "Who is responsible for everything that goes wrong in Titus Andronicus?"
Notes:
S. Clarke Hulse - "Wresting the Alphabet: Oratory and Action in 'Titus Andronicus'"David Willbern - "Rape and Revenge in 'Titus Andronicus'"Julie Taymor - Titus

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