Review: Andronicus Synecdoche

A powerful re-imagining of Shakespeare's brutal revenge play

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Andronicus Synecdoche
Photo by Domas Rimeika
Published 09 Aug 2023

Titus Andronicus is arguably Shakespeare's most violent play. In Song of the Goat's version, condensing it to just over an hour concentrates its violence and brings the women characters to the fore. These features, and the large cast, use of music, and striking design, make this a powerful adaptation about the consequences of war.

Though the title of Shakespeare's original suggests the play belongs to Roman general Titus, this version is Tamora's, the goth queen taken hostage during the war that precedes the play's start. The revenge she engineers, and that which Titus enacts in return, is fully staged whereas much of the other action is speedily narrated rather than played out. Though this means some knowledge of the story would be beneficial so as to understand the context around the staged scenes, this clever approach highlights key moments that drive the message home. In this case, the takeaway is that ultimately, no one really wins a war. Both sides endure awful suffering as a result of their desperate need to make each other feel as much pain as possible.

As well as the narration, choral singing and movement sequences emphasise the religion and militarism that drives the story. Angular choreography and all-black costumes create a sense of unrelenting brutality. The only major issue is that Aaron is a white actor, though often referred to as black. Apart from this, the clear concept and message make this production one to see.