Jacki Mison TitusThe production is a mix of horror and bawdy satire- Shakespeare meets Tarantino if you will.

Think you know Sydney? We are all familiar with its iconic stars including that house for opera and a familiar looking bridge; but have you ever delved into her backstreets? Ever taken a journey to the fringe to uncover stars around darker bends? The Sydney Fringe Festival takes you to such places and this year the state’s largest independent art festival is unveiling its biggest line up ever with more than 300 shows. It’s a celebration of art, theatre, music and sound, dance, poetry, film-reviews, artisan food and of course not without a drop of wine.

One such venue, the Glebe Café Church Space will play host to William Shakespeare Titus Andronicus – an all-female cast that will be a spectacular treat in this intimate venue furnished with couches and retro lamps.

LOTL snuck down the alleyways to chat with one of the cast about the show, which is inspired by the recurring and horrifying media accounts of violence perpetrated against and by women. The raw, unbridled rage inherent in Titus reflected that which appeared to be simmering away in women everywhere. Let’s see what leading lady Jacki Mison, who plays Titus Andronicus, has to say

Q: Tell us why this production drew you in?

The opportunity to play such a demanding and challenging role was one I couldn’t resist. The fact the production was also going to be an all female cast, meant I knew it was going to be pretty special.

Q: It’s described as a blood-soaked battleground with razor wit. How is humour weaved into the powerful underlying message?

This is a revenge play where the cycle of violence, once begun, just escalates to levels of absurdity. Sometimes when the horror is so great, humour is the only tactic we can use to allow us, as humans, to do what needs to be done – otherwise we just fall into a heap. This is clearly seen throughout the play.

Q: And the rehearsals? It’s a full female cast- did you all get on beautifully or dig nails in for the lead role!?

Well, I was one of the last to be cast, so I’m not sure who went for the role before me – and I haven’t asked! But the rehearsals have been fantastic. Everyone is a generous player and actively contributes. Although surprisingly we have yet to have the requisite after-rehearsal drinks session  – perhaps that’s the lack of male influence in the rehearsal space!

Q: Tell us a little about the venue- why is it a perfect fit?

The Church Café in Glebe is a lovely space and acoustically very good.  It’s also very intimate which means as performers, we have the opportunity to move in and around the audience. In essence, our audience will become the people of Rome – so if you plan to attend, feel free to wear a toga…

Q: There are horror effects, nudity, violence and fierce female performers; what can the audience expect?

Can’t tell you as it would spoil the experience. Come, watch and find out…..Hint – there is several litres of blood required each night.

Q: What do you love most about the show? And what were the challenges?

I love that it’s a big, brutal beast of a show. And I think, as a creative team, we are trying to make bold choices (not necessarily beautiful ones…) The challenge, as always with independent theatre, is trying to rehearse a show around conflicting schedules, on a very tight budget, with actors who are all trying to make a living at the same time. It’s not always easy or ideal, but totally worth it.

Q: How do you want the audience to feel and how would you like them to describe the performance?

I can’t say how I would like the audience to feel because that’s always going to be a very individual response but I do hope they are engaged and provoked by it. I’m looking forward to some interesting discussions afterwards, particularly to see if females perpetuating these acts of violence; changed the way they reacted to the play. As for a description? I’d be happy with kick-ass…