Since seeing this production of Titus, I’ve watched the Julie Taymor film adaptation, and now feel sure that somewhere inside Titus is a decent, non-crazy play waiting to be performed. Taymor had the advantage of great actors: Anthony Hopkins was incredible, as were Harry Lennix (as Aaron) and Colm Feore (as Marcus). Lennix surely sets a standard for the role with his performance, and Hopkins nearly achieved the impossible: making Titus himself seem understandable. Sadly, while Taymor’s anachronisms (Romans riding motorbikes and so on) worked fine (as if her visiting boy from our world, at first wordlessly watching the action and then quite mysteriously becoming part of it, had received a vision of life’s eternal brutality and struggle), her peculiar style of blending film and stage made the film feel a cumbersome mix, requiring wide shots that seemed unsuited for the medium. Her Rome was often unpopulated aside from the main cast, as would work in a play, but made a movie feel empty.
I have to believe, therefore, the play can work on stage: great acting and much cutting is required.