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Michael D. Friedman and Alan Dessen

During the years immediately following Deborah Warner’s acclaimed 1987 RSC production, succeeding directors of Titus Andronicus declined to follow her example of playing an uncut script and making the most of the text’s opportunities for dark comedy. Three of the four productions that opened in 1989 (directed by Jeannette Lambermont, Daniel Mesguich, and Michael Maggio) cut and rearranged the text liberally, often in an attempt to avoid the laughter that Warner had welcomed. Emulating a more distant

in Titus Andronicus
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To look at the performance history of Titus Andronicus is to confront some provocative questions such as why has this play posed severe problems for generations of readers, critics, editors, actors, directors, and playgoers. The book examines twelve major theatrical productions and one film, on the play, that appeared in the years 1989-2009. It begins with Edward Ravenscroft's version that superseded Shakespeare's script. Peter Brook chose to stylise or formalise many moments, and Deborah Warner's production worked with no cutting of the script. Every staging of Titus elicits comments about the daunting nature of the script. The book presents Irving Wardle's reactions on Trevor Nunn's 1972 rendition, and Stanley Wells's review of the Swan production. The densest concentration of such problems and anomalies, as perceived by today's directors, critics, and editors, comes in the final scene. The productions that opened in 1989, directed by Jeannette Lambermont, Daniel Mesguich, and Michael Maggio, cut and rearranged the text liberally, often in an attempt to avoid the laughter. During the period 1989-99, three major European directors, Peter Stein, Silviu Purcarete, and Gregory Doran, focused their attention on the ways in which the play can be made to comment on specific contemporary affairs. Julie Taymor's venture in 1994 combined stylization with the 'visceral reality' as a means to keep spectators off balance and continuously sensitive to the shocking brutality of the play's events. The book ends by discussing the efforts of Yukio Ninagaw, Bill Alexander, Gale Edwards, Richard Rose, and Lucy Bailey.

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Michael D. Friedman and Alan Dessen

, and Yukio Ninagawa’s revival for the RSC’s Complete Works Festival in 2006. Howell’s BBC version, which Dessen calls ‘the most “realistic” of the productions surveyed here’ (see p. 117 ), featured literal representations of the text’s violence and a serious, tragic tone. Directors who follow in this vein (Michael Maggio at the 1989 New York Shakespeare Festival, Bill Alexander for the RSC in 2003, and Gale Edwards at the Washington, DC Shakespeare Theatre Company in 2007) tend toward a restrained, dignified

in Titus Andronicus
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1994 and 1999
Michael D. Friedman and Alan Dessen

of an unseen crowd. Within the ancient world, the modern boy, paralleling his counterpart in Howell’s production, assumed the part of Young Lucius by welcoming his grandfather back to Rome and assisting him in the performance of his religious rites. Taymor’s script for both productions, like Michael Maggio’s, copied Howell’s decision to rearrange 1.1 so that Titus’s homecoming and sacrifice of Alarbus preceded the squabbling of Saturninus and Bassianus. This choice allowed Taymor to proceed without a break from her

in Titus Andronicus
Michael D. Friedman and Alan Dessen

of a dodgy archbishop or a shady eminence grise than a punch-drunk old bull of a warrior’ (Bill, 16). What some spectators read as ‘excellent low-key irony’ in Bradley’s performance (Billington, Bill, 26) others saw as ‘cadaverous neutrality’ that contributed to a ‘dull production’ (Coveney, Bill, 55). Like Michael Maggio’s equally realistic yet understated Central Park version fourteen years earlier, Alexander’s Titus – epitomised by Bradley’s ‘restrained’ performance (Bassett, Bill, 8) – did not commit to

in Titus Andronicus