A revival of Shakespeare’s most violent play has certainly lived up to its reputation, with two people fainting and more having to be taken out of the theatre to recover.
Reaction proved as strong to Lucy Bailey’s production of Titus Andronicus at its opening night at the globe as when it was first unveiled in 2006. Five fainted at a preview earlier in the week.
The London Standard reported that several of the groundlings – the audience who stand in the central pit of the open-air auditorium – gasped and fell to the floor when Flora Spencer- Longhurst, as Lavinia, walked on stage covered in blood after she had been raped and her tongue and hands cut off. Within minutes, at least eight audience members had been led out for fresh air.
Gasps continued during the performance as necks were slit, hands chopped and a woman raped and killed with a sword. In fairness, the production does come with the warning that it is ‘grotesquely violent’ and ‘daringly experimental.’
Titus Andronicus is playing at the Globe Theatre until July 13. A Globe spokeswoman said fainting was not uncommon among groundlings, but assured that staff were well-trained.
While some didn’t have the stomach for the production, many less squeamish audience members thoroughly enjoyed it, so it’s fair to say audience members weren’t walking out because of a poor production.