This is Shakespeare’s early indulgence in Grand Guignol. Bodies pile up, mutilation, rape, framing enemies for murder, revenge…it’s all here. A new Roman Emperor is needed. The valiant but aged Andronicus refuses the honour, offering the crown to a younger prince. Who, of course, has far less integrity than him, and you could say the chaos that ensues is his fault. Elizabethans may have seen it that way, anyway.
There is also a famous bit of cannibalism here – where a queen is tricked into eating her own sons. Sound fun?
This play can be taken seriously and the audience held in suspension of disbelief, but that requires a full-on assault on the audience’s sense of reality. Here things are sometimes a bit lighter, but mostly the cast perform with graphic intensity, and you are hurtled into an amoral world where only many forms of gratification seem to matter, except to Andronicus, who is less foolish than he at first appears.
If you want a late night gothic horror story with brilliant and exuberant acting, taking you on a visual and verbal roller-coaster ride, then get yourself a ticket for this one. You won’t regret it.