Edinburgh: Sex, pies and hideous taste

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The Independent Culture


THE DIRECTOR Malachi Bogdanov has turned Shakespeare's grisly tragedy of ancient Roman revenge, one of the Bard's most unremittingly bleak plays, into an exhilarating, grotesque farce. Apart from the occasional bursts of accompanying funk music and the Day-glo production design, the costumes are the most obvious sign of Bogdanov's subversive intentions. Wearing padded body stockings and enormous wigs, the cast resemble naked sumo wrestlers in pompadours.

The play is the story of the eponymous Roman's suffering at the hands of his emperor's queen, the murderous Tamora. It's awash with sex and violence, themes which are drawn out gleefully. When not pleasuring themselves, the libidinous cast are pawing each other's gaudily coloured genitalia.

This is a hoot while Tamora and Titus are scrapping bitchily, but the production stalls when it attempts briefly to hint at the real tragedy of Andronicus's plight. It's back at its vulgar best, though, with the play's final cannibalistic tableau: think Ready, Steady, Cook! with a George Clinton soundtrack.

Pleasance, Venue 33 (0131-556 6550) until 30 Aug