Sunday, February 23, 2014

"Coriolanus" from the Donmar Warehouse

So I've just gotten back from my viewing of Coriolanus through a broadcast from the Donmar Warehouse through National Theater Live. I've thought about what I would say throughout the drive home, and I find that I'm more than a little flabbergasted about what to say and how to put this thing. In simplest terms... it was breathtaking.

I'll be honest and say I wanted to see the play because Tom Hiddleston and Mark Gattis were in it. But I made myself read the play before I went to see it, and I found a new play in Shakespeare's repertoire that I could come to love. Just reading the play was brilliant, but seeing it performed, even on such a small scale as the Donmar, was wonderful.

The setting was grungy, but in the best possibly way. It was visceral and raw, and it captured the spirit of the play beautifully. There wasn't anything unnecessary on the stage or anywhere in the costumes or props. It was a play stripped down to its bones, and it was beautiful. I think it was perhaps the best way to do this play because that's what Coriolanus was. The story is about blood and pride, envy and the violence of battle. The stripped down bareness of the play made it more real and pulled me easier.

And while the play is billed as The Tragedy of Coriolanus, there were plenty of comedic bits in the play. Tom and Mark played up every chance they could to get a laugh, and it was often at a time to break up a great feeling of tension in the play. It was also a way for Coriolanus to present his scorn of the people, and it was enough to set the entire theater to laughing.

The staging, the casting, the interpretation of the words, everything was beautiful and perfect. It was Shakespeare done the way it was meant to be. Not flashy and on a scale that takes away all imagination, but as the Bard himself would have done it. Simple, yet powerful beyond imagining.

I had thought my favorite Shakespearean production from Tom was Henry V. But Coriolanus gives Hal a run for his money.

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Edited by - Stephanie King