‘Twill Vex Thy Soul

July 1, 2011

I didn’t mention in my sidebar that I finished Becoming Shakespeare and have since read Richard III and Titus Andronicus.  I’ll be seeing both plays this summer in Stratford, Ontario.

I am not a fan of horror.  I don’t claim to be otherwise.  I have a weak stomach for such things.  I don’t read Stephen King.  I avoid movies with words like ‘nightmare’, ‘scream’, ‘saw’ or ‘massacre’ in the titles.  I liked Misery and Silence of the Lambs at the movie theater, but I’ll never watch them again.

Those of you familiar with Titus Andronicus will understand why I’ve been sleeping with the lights on for the last week.

For everyone else, Titus lands squarely in the horror genre.  Definitely rated R.  I heard the play described as bloody.  I thought I was prepared for bloody Shakespeare.

I sat in the audience while eyes were plucked out in King Lear.  I gazed on Macbeth’s disembodied head as it was paraded around in his own play.  I witnessed the stage-carpeting carnage of Hamlet.  Perhaps less graphic, but equally bone-chilling was  Laurencia’s tongue-lashing of her father and other men in Fuente Ovejuna (by Lope de Vega) after they allowed her to be raped by the local bullies.   Certainly Titus would be no more gruesome than any of these, would it?

Well, yes.  Yes it would.  The word ‘grisly’ is more apropos.  The list of casualties starts in the opening scene.  After that, one should have a notebook to keep score.  But lest you become numb to the routine beheadings, Shakespeare spices things up with macabre maimings.  Several characters are mutilated and left to wander around the stage on morbid display as others make tasteless jokes.

Thankfully, I am finished reading Titus Andronicus.  Now I can laugh haughtily (my favorite pastime!) at Titus references.  I don’t know if it was worth the price, though.

I think I’ll pack my wubby for this year’s Stratford trip.

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