Four Letter Word Theatre’s second outing this year is one of Shakespeare’s most bloody and confronting plays, Titus Andronicus.
Set amongst a Roman empire fallen into disarray, families and factions are pitted against each other in a bloody spectacle. Think Game of Thrones meets Tarentino meets Shakespeare (meets Gladiator).
Already The Age has stated that:
“The bloodiest and most excessive of Shakespeare's tragedies, young theatre-makers Four Letter Word have successfully made Titus Andronicus even more vulgar”
That it is a:
While SameSame contends that this play reaches:
“giddy heights of debaucherous masochism”
Two hollow Roman columns that slowly fill with blood throughout the show frame that stage itself, while digital imagery over white-cloth archways watch over the stark white stage. Offering no judgment to the chaos that reigns bellow.
Director (and company artistic director) Sara Tabitha Catchpole leads this ensemble into the horrors of the human mind and pushes people to the limits – where would you go and how far to revenge the one’s you love? Says Catchpole: "This production is sure to divide audiences and confront them in a visual feast of blood, limbs, rape, cannibalism, murder, incest and everything else under the Roman sun – including jars upon jars that litter the stage filled with live flies, that buzz and whir throughout the show."
Catchpole is the founder of Four Letter Word Theatre and, if the legend is correct, she founded FLWT in 2010 in order to produce the practical components of her thesis – ‘The Problematics and Pragmatics of Feminist Directing: Staging Male-Authored Female Character’ – while studying Creative Arts at Melbourne Uni. Catchpole has been no slouch since 2010 with directorial credits including: The Blue Room, Phaedra’s Love and FLWT’s first musical, Nine. She produced Closer in early 2011 and her other talents include costume design, set design, production manager and graphic design to name a few. She states that Four Letter Word Theatre is dedicated to quality, thought provoking and affecting theatre… by whatever means necessary. It was formed to present challenging, contemporary theatre that isn’t afraid to push boundaries to the limit.
This philosophy was certainly true of FLWT's last production, Equus! Catchpole’s dedication and commitment to making quality theatre is clear when she says: “My focus when creating productions from the design to the performers is always to keep the audience in the forefront of my mind. They are who experience the piece – and are therefore whom the piece should be created for. I think a lot of contemporary theatre makers focus too heavily on the process and forget the outcome. A positive outcome for me is to purely entertain the audience, perhaps though, with a twinge of discomfort – for without that, how do you know you’re living?”
If a script is originally very naturalistic catchpole may choose to, once casting and rehearsals begin, to strip away a lot of that naturalism and create something focused more on the senses of the audience. "Focussing on the sound for the production and its eerie undertones, I am able to centre a show on a feeling rather than idea,” she says.
Running for another week (Tuesday 14 – Saturday 16) at the Studio, Revolt Artspace, Titus Andronicus is not to be missed