Shakespeare was in a dark mood when he wrote Titus Andronicus. If he did, that is - its Websterean bleakness and gore are surprising for anyone more used to the psychological tortures of Hamlet, although the body count is to be expected.
Boiled down to an hour for the fringe this is a hard hitting drama by Hephaestus Productions. A large cast in a small space makes for a shouty stridey start to this grim story of political manipulation, misguided patriotism, split families, foul betrayal and vengeance. Be ready for sacrificial killings, expedient allegiances, rape, torture, adultery, racism, murder, madness and a slice of human pie.
Plunged into the relentless tragedy we couldn't help drawing some pop culture comparisons to lighten our mood. Titus Andronicus resembles Jim Robinson. Boys bickering smack of Phil and Grant. The foolish unfortunate lad with a pigeon is surely based on Jedward. On a serious note, in a cast full of testosterone, Cheska Moon gives an excellent manipulative and sexy performance as goth queen Tamora and Zimmy Ryan's ravished, maimed Lavinia compels compassion right to her silent end.
Titus Andronicus is at Camden People's Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road, NW1 2PY tonight and tomorrow, 9.15pm. All tickets to The Camden Fringe are £7.50.
Read more Camden Fringe coverage.