by William Shakespeare
A Donmar Warehouse production
Director Josie Rourke
Designer Lucy Osborne
Lighting Designer Mark Henderson
Sound Designer Emma Laxton
Video Designer Andrzej Goulding
Composer Michael Bruce
Movement Jonathan Watkins
Fight Director Richard Ryan
From 7pm 4 June 2020 until 11 June 2020 at National Theatre at Home
Running Time: 2 hours 40 mins with a very short interval. Review Mark Courtice 4th June 2020
BBFC rating 12A when released in cinema. Contains scenes featuring occasional gore and staged violence.
War hero Caius Martius won’t curry favour with the people of Rome. This means he doesn’t get to be a consul but worse he is banished. He has to decide whether to take his revenge on Rome by joining his former enemy.
Josie Rourke’s production is stripped down; edited to under 3 hours, and with an almost bare stage, the emphasis is on character. There’s less of the politics that so baffles Coriolanus (renamed in honour of his latest victory). Mostly the Roman citizenry are represented by a pair of tribunes, played here with sinister relish by Elliot Levey and Helen Schlesinger. Coriolanus is slaughtered like a pig by a single soldier standing for the whole Volscian army. This chamber version is not just short of people; the production, which is presented in thrust, comes out of the darkness which gives a greater sense of distance in the theatre but on screen at home just seems very dark. The production of the film version is generally very fine, but it takes time to accustom the eye as the camera bustles around the stage.
Coriolanus’ mother says, “….before him he carries noise and behind him he leaves death”, so for the actor there is a temptation to start off turned up to 11 and continue with much blood and bellowing. Although covered in blood (washed away under a real shower) Hiddleston seems more puzzled than ranting in his own intransigence. His mother Volumnia (Deborah Findlay – ferocious) might have something to do with it, although even she disowns his pride.
There’s an intelligent performance from Mark Gatiss as Menenius, ultimately very moving when he is rejected out of hand by the man he loves as a son. Hadley Fraser’s Aufidius, the Yorkshire-accented Volscian leader, is a study of another type of uncompromising masculinity.
First Citizen, Ensemble Rochenda Sandall
Second Citizen, Ensemble Mark Stanley
Third Citizen, Ensemble Dwane Walcott
Menenius Mark Gatiss
Caius Martius Coriolanus Tom Hiddleston
Cominius Peter De Jersey
Titus Lartius Alfred Enoch
Brutus Elliot Levey
Sicinia Helen Schlesinger
Aufidius Hadley Fraser
Volumnia Deborah Findlay
Virgilia Birgitte Hjort Sorensen
Valeria, Fourth Citizen, Ensemble Jacqueline Boatswain
Young Martius Joe Willis