Additional Information on “Titus Andronicus”

Titus Andronicus is a play by William Shakespeare that contains rape, body harm, amputation, murder, and gendered and racialized violence. It is recommended that any audience member concerned about this subject matter should familiarize themselves with the play before attending the production. Please be advised that this production will include physical and sexual violence, and self-harm. Below is additional information.

SPOILERS AHEAD

People are murdered in the following ways: Stabbed in the stomach, stabbed in the neck, throats sliced, neck snapped, head smashed. Realistic blood effects are used during these scenes with the blood product spurting or spraying.  In addition, hands and heads are chopped off and the “body parts” are used on stage as props in gruesome ways.  There is murder of family with fathers killing sons and mothers begging that their children be spared in several heartbreaking scenes.

Aaron, portrayed by an African American actor, is handcuffed, has a noose placed around his neck and his tongue cut out.  Later, he is seen being buried alive with dirt in a video projection that was filmed previously.  He has an affair with Tamora and after she gives birth, it is seen from the skin color of the child, that the father is not Saturninus her husband, portrayed by a Caucasian actor, but is Aaron’s child.  This unexpected issue is discussed and sexually suggestive statements and gestures are made.  Aaron loves the child and willingly divulges information and dies quietly with the promise of the safely of his child.

The female character, Lavinia, is molested, dragged, punched and pushed around onstage while her attackers taunt and torment her.  She is then dragged off stage and raped and mutilated.  When she returns to the stage, her dress is covered in blood, her hands have been cut off and bloody stumps remain, and her tongue has been cut off and blood falls out of her mouth.  She is traumatized and scared to be touched when she is found by her uncle.  He brings her to father, Titus Androncius, to show him what has happened to his daughter and everyone is horrified.  In response and in solidarity to his daughter, her father cuts off his own hand and vows revenge on her attackers.  Later, her father discovers the complete truth of her attack and that in addition to the mutilations, she was raped and this is devastating news.  At the end of the play, it is discussed that Lavinia, and any women who has been raped, would be better dead than to live on with her shame.  In an act of mercy, her own father kills Lavinia by twisting her head and neck.  She dies instantly at peace.

The play ends with Titus Andronicus getting revenge on the attackers of his daughter.  The two brothers, Chiron and Demetrius, are captured by Titus and his daughter and are taunted and then chained to a rack where they are flipped and hung upside down.  Their throats are slit and there is blood effect used.  Then, a previously recorded projection shows us that the bodies were taken and chopped up and ground in a meat grinder to make a pie. This sequence was filmed at the Dent Schoolhouse and has dismembered body parts and other gruesome images. Titus invites the brother’s mother, Tamora, over to dinner and unbeknownst to her, is fed her own sons cooked into the pie.  She eats many bites before it is revealed to her that she has just ingested her murdered sons.  She is disgusted and vomits on the stage before being brutally murdered by Titus.

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Additionally, the basic plot of the play is below.

SYNOPSIS
A summary of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus - his most bloody revenge tragedy.

The brothers Saturninus and Bassianus are in contention for the Roman emperorship.

Titus Andronicus, Rome's most honoured general, returns from wars against the Goths with their queen, Tamora, her sons and her lover, Aaron the Moor, as captives. Her eldest son is sacrificed by Titus; she vows revenge.

A NEW EMPEROR
Titus is nominated emperor by his brother Marcus, one of Rome's tribunes. This Titus declines, instead nominating Saturninus.

To seal the bond of friendship, the new emperor, Saturnius, offers to marry Titus's daughter Lavinia. She, however, is already pledged to Bassianus.

Saturninus, by now infatuated with Tamora, makes her empress instead.

REVENGE
Manipulated by Aaron, Tamora's sons, Chiron and Demetrius, avenge their mother by raping and mutilating Lavinia, and killing Bassianus. Aaron falsely implicates two of Titus's sons in this murder.

In his turn Titus vows revenge and sends his surviving son Lucius to the Goths to raise an army. Titus achieves his revenge by killing Tamora's sons and serving them up to her at a banquet, and then killing her.

He himself is killed by Saturninus and his death avenged by Lucius, who is made emperor.

Synopsis provided by the Royal Shakespeare Company.