Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Theatre: Titus Andronicus

William Shakespeare

Her Infinite Variety Ensemble
Directed by Jenny De Reuck
Designed by Sarah Duyvestan
Featuring Nicola Bartlett, Helen Doig, Tiffany Barton, Angelique Malcolm, Natalie Ryan-Brand, Olivia Hogan, Shirley Van Sanden, Mikala Westall, Emma Jermy, Sarah Courtis, Claire Munday and Rhoda Lopez  
Subiaco Arts Centre Studio
Until May 21

The William Shakespeare of the early 1590s was a young man in a big hurry. He’d had some success with a couple of comedies and histories but aimed for a stake in the prestige market for tragedies, which was dominated by Thomas Kyd and the firebrand Christopher Marlowe.
His first foray into tragedy was Titus Andronicus, a messy, ill-formed piece of Ovidian and Senecan bloodbathery that wanted for nothing in energy, for all it lacked in artistic merit. Think of the Saw movie franchise.
So now, 350-odd years later, we’ve got an all-female Titus Andronicus produced by a mono-gender (its description) theatre company aiming to redress the imbalance in male/female opportunities in the acting profession.
That’s a noble enough intention. I just wish it had chosen a more likely vehicle in which to make its debut.
Everyone works hard, and Jenny de Reuck’s direction is eventful and occasionally inventive, but I’m afraid I can’t think of a single example where casting a woman in the role of a man served any purpose. And that makes the exercise, however worthy, essentially pointless.  

Link here to the complete review in The West Australian


  1. I'm aware there are people who strongly disagree with my take on Titus. I really encourage you to have your say here!

  2. I am writing in response to David Zampatti's "pointless" review of the production Titus Andronicus by the all female theatre company "HIVE". I write from the perspective of being a woman, an actress (in the Perth theatre community) and a mother. I found the production and the performances exhilarating for a number of reasons. It is exhilarating to see women inhabiting roles which explore notions of power, authority and dare I say violence unconstrained by the limited possibilities open to women in most of the conventional narratives we are forced to swallow in this sheltered little town. As an actress I had the vicarious thrill of seeing my peers experimenting with style and language as they were gloriously unleashed from the shackles of gender. As a mother I reveled in Tiffany Barton's portrayal of Tamora as she combined a deep sexuality with fierce maternal passion (yes I said it SEX and MATERNAL at the same time!). There is a prudishness in the elite Perth scene that tends to turn it's nose up at theatre which boldly explores female sexuality which I believe Tiffany challenges and GOOD ON HER! Nicola Bartlett as Titus delivered a subtle and nuanced exploration of Shakspearean musicality - clearly she has a deep love of language and textual complexity. Rhoda Lopez and Shirley Van Sanden animated their characterisations with a commedia dell'ate physicality adding another dynamic dimension to the juice and blood of the drama. This production is I hope the first hot fountain from a volcanic eruption of exciting boundary smashing theatre that will change the Perth artistic landscape irrevocably. BRAVO!