The Unbearable Banishment: Mother! Oh, God, mother! Blood! Blood!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mother! Oh, God, mother! Blood! Blood!

And lots of it.

During the course of the story, the following happens. Hang in there because it keeps getting worse (which is to say, better).

Roman General vanquishes Goths. Goth Queen begs for son's life but General stabs him in front of her. Claims it was his "religious duty." Queen vows revenge. (Who wouldn't?)

Roman Emperor was suppose to marry General's daughter, but she runs away with Emperor's brother with the aid of General's sons. General feels sons have "betrayed" Rome and, in a fit of rage, stabs one of them, killing him.

Goth Queen marries Roman Emperor instead. During hunting expedition, Goth Queen's sons murder General's son-in-law, throws his carcass into a pit and then rapes General's daughter. To keep her quiet, they cut out her tongue and cut off both of her hands. She spends the remainder of the play with two stumps and bloody clothes.

General's two sons are framed for the murder of their brother-in-law by Queen's Henchman and are carted off for execution. Henchman tells General that Emperor will spare son's life if he chops off his (the General's) hand. General chops off hand, Henchman takes it away. General spends remainder of play with a stump.

Had enough? Well, too bad. We're just getting warmed up.

It turns out that the Henchman was lying about the Emperor sparing the General's sons. The two severed heads are brought in and presented to the General, along with his hand that was needlessly sacrificed. Henchman laughs. General picks up heads of sons, his daughter picks up the severed hand WITH HER TEETH and they sulk off stage, vowing revenge.

Queen delivers baby. Baby is of mixed race. Uh oh! Henchman is black! Nurse that delivers news is strangled and Henchman flees with baby. Eventually, Henchman is captured and is buried up to his chest and left to starve to death. He is unrepentant and says he would do it all over again.

Queen's sons are captured (don't ask!). General castrates them (without anesthesia) and slits their throats. Daughter holds a basin IN HER STUMPS and catches draining blood. Blood and ground-up heads are baked into a pie. (You see where this is going, right?)

The next day at a banquet, General asks Emperor if a father should kill his daughter if she has been raped. He replies, "Yes, so she doesn't have to live with the shame." General snaps daughter's neck, killing her instantly. Queen asks recipe for delicious pie she just consumed and is told she ate her sons. General jumps up on table and cuts Queen's throat. Emperor eviscerates General. General's lone remaining son stabs Emperor. General's son becomes new Emperor and first order of business is to have Queen's body tossed into the wilderness where it can be "devoured by wild beasts."

Did I leave anybody out? I don't think so. This is not the latest in the Saw series. It's Shakespeare! Supposedly. Though attributed to him, many scholars doubt that he actually wrote it. The violence is so graphic and characters so over-the-top that they don't think it's his. T.S. Elliot deemed it "THE WORST PLAY EVER WRITTEN." That's a bold statement.

The production of Titus Andronicus I saw at the American Globe Theater was well staged and the costumes were pretty cool for such a small production. A few of the principals were good but many in the cast were young whelps just out of acting school and, boy, it showed. What a bunch of hams.


Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Holy crap! That's a lot of hacking and slashing! But yeah, Shakespeare is definitely known for violence, incest, sex, rape and pillage.

Great overview, though, UB! Glad to hear they did a good job of the play... but who got to clean all that blood of the stage afterwards???

That would be just a bloody mess!

March 7, 2010 at 1:06 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

Stumps stumps and more stumps

March 7, 2010 at 1:22 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

and no pudding? xoxox

March 7, 2010 at 4:35 AM  
Blogger Barlinnie said...

I've had similar Friday nights out on the toon.

March 7, 2010 at 7:07 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Ponita: The amount of violence and such in this play is WAAAAY over the top, even for Shakespeare. Also, this was a small, off-off Broadway production and there wasn't a lot of stage blood. Much of it is implied. There's a recent movie of Titus Andronicus with Anthony Hopkins as Titus and directed by Julie Taymor that I'm sure is much more visual (I haven't seen it). And did I imply they did a good job? One or two of the actors were good but overall it wasn't very well done.

Nurse: Two stumps for the daughter and a stump for the General. Plus, I just saw Christopher Walken do a play whereby HE had a stump! Enough!!!!

Savannah: Who would have room for pudding after eating their children?

Jimmy: I'm not entirely convinced that you're kidding.

March 7, 2010 at 8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a performer? i bet this show is kinda fun... "I stab you, then you rape me, then we both go over and put sticks in Ralphie's eyes". i could do this one... but maybe not with a straight face!

March 7, 2010 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Tess Kincaid said...

I love Julie Taymor's movie version. The sets are so fabulously operatic.

March 7, 2010 at 11:28 AM  
Anonymous annie said...

This should replace Romeo and Juliet in high schools. Seriously. It would be so much easier to get kids interested in the Bard if they started here.

March 7, 2010 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: You would make an absolutely delicious and convincing Goth Queen. Hell, you ARE the Goth Queen!

Willow: By the end of the play I thought I had had enough but, strangely enough, I can't wait to see the movie.

Annie: That's brilliant! Give 'em nightmares and they're sure to come back for more. Wait 'til they see Gloucester's eyes gouged out in Lear.

March 7, 2010 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Charlie said...

I knew the refuse removal business in NYC and NJ was competitive, but I had no idea it was this bad!

March 8, 2010 at 1:57 PM  

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