Remember my previous trailer reviews? Filled with snark and barely-hidden vitriol stemming from my own inadequacies? Well, if you ever go back and read one again, add this mental addendum: at least this was not Titus.
The idea that monochrome makes something arty is an error that has long dogged the Stage photos sent in by eager productions. This is not to say black-and-white images can’t be the sexy smorgasbord of aesthetic and function every marketing manager wants them to be – but there has to be some art behind the digital filter. One day, I have no doubt, a paradigm-shifting black-and-white trailer will launch onto the Oxford scene and silence me forever.
This is not that day. From the un-steadycam to the ‘presidential press conference’ held in a classroom, to the sudden onset of a rock beat so dull and pounding it almost banishes the memory of Tamora’s (Katie McGunagle) ‘evil witch’ laugh, everything about this trailer is unintentionally awful. Take the shot 23 seconds in, of the back of Tamora’s head and presumably Aaron lurking out of focus in the corner. Why? Just… why? Once the music starts you have to give up all pretence of taking this seriously. We get not one, but two shots of people yelling with naught but a rock track to accompany them; Lavinia’s (Lara Panahay) rape being shot from so many angles it looks like a mugging; followed by a shot of someone standing completely still looking gormless. Who is he supposed to play? Why is he staring at nothing? What is the purpose of this madness? Fortunately, the hilariously bad stage-stabbing restores some light: just shoot that front-on, guys, I’m sure we won’t notice the lack of knife – or acting.
Apparently this production has taken the radical decision of replacing acting with swaying. You can sway near walls, sway with other people, even sway in double-speed! From the way Aaron (Andrew Laithwaite) laughs into the camera, I think he knows the pain this trailer is causing me. Perhaps he directed it. By the time the trailer closes out on Tamora eating pie ‘seductively’ I think my ribs might break from laughing. This is bad. This is not-one-thought-given-to-storytelling/sense/drama/aesthetic-at-all bad. And because of that, it’s brilliant comedy.
Titus Andronicus plays at the English Faculty from Tuesday to Friday of 7th week. Tickets available here.