Tamora gets even later. Her surviving sons waylay Titus’ daughter, kill her husband, take turns raping her atop his body, slice off her hands and cut out her tongue.
There’s more: throat-cutting, amputation, cannibalism and madness. The play also features a sort of black Iago: the scheming Aaron, who has a child by Tamora. If Othello is a “noble Moor,” Aaron is b-b-bad to the bone. His last line: “If one good deed in all my life I did, I do repent it from my very soul.”
Popular in Shakespeare’s time, Titus faded after his death. It’s both gory and difficult to stage convincingly. But several classically trained actors, including Laurence Olivier and Patrick Stewart, have … er … taken a stab at the role of Titus. A successful 1987 Royal Shakespeare Company production led to many revivals. It will be interesting to see how the Actor’s Theatre meets this challenging script, once the fever subsides.