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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 09:01 GMT 10:01 UK
Midnight Titus promises gorefest
By Zoe Kleinman
BBC News

Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus is one of Shakespeare's most violent works

Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus may predate Chucky and Freddie Krueger by 400 years but this 16th century gorefest makes Hollywood's grimmest horror movie look like Bambi.

So a special midnight performance at Shakespeare's Globe in London on Saturday will not be for the faint-hearted.

The show's director, Lucy Bailey, has promised hearty amounts of bloodshed throughout.

"'We've used as much blood as possible - I wish we could have had more, but we had to be careful about ruining the costumes," she said.

"We have to keep the audience shocked."

Even spectators in the standing area near the stage will not be safe from the carnage.

It's set in a rough and dangerous time

Lucy Bailey, director

With evil henchmen roaming the audience for enemies, a heated election battle taking place on two towers which move through the unseated theatre crowd and actors falling into netted pits by your head, they will be right in the middle of the chaos.

"It's set in a rough and dangerous time,' said Ms Bailey, adding that the actors will take care to keep the frequent violence between themselves.

The bard's gruesome tale of murder and revenge starts with war and sacrifice and ends with cannibalism and a bloodbath.

Modelled loosely on the fall of Rome, it is so brutal that some academics question whether Shakespeare actually wrote it.

But Bailey insists there is a surprising amount of tenderness and humour lurking beneath the bloody facade.

The role of Titus, played by seasoned theatre actor Douglas Hodge, has been tackled in the past by the likes of Laurence Olivier and Anthony Hopkins.

Titus Andronicus
The Globe has warned audiences to be prepared for the "bloody" play

Titus' culinary revenge - he dishes up the two sons of his female adversary for dinner - has even featured in an episode of South Park.

To add to the funereal nature of the play, the famously open-air Globe has also been covered for the first time.

The 'roof' - loosely fitting sheets of black canvas - is a key part of the set, not there to protect the coiffures of the venue's more glamorous patrons, but to capture a breeze which wafts ominous smoke and incense around the arena.

Created by Bafta-winning theatre designer William Dudley, it is based on one of the earliest forms of air conditioning, invented by the Romans for the Colosseum.

The midnight performance is the Globe's first of the summer, with late night productions of Anthony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus to follow in July and August.

But those who do catch Titus Andronicus will probably decide to avoid the kebab shop on the way home.

Globe warns over 'gruesome' play
02 Jun 06 |  Entertainment
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23 Apr 06 |  Entertainment
Globe vies for 'amazing' awards
04 Nov 05 |  London
Blood plea to Bard fans
17 Sep 03 |  Coventry/Warwickshire

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