This was going to go up later in the week, but as it's Hiddleston's birthday, I thought it appropriate to do it today!
Writer: William Shakespeare
Directed by: Josie Rourke
Major cast: Tom Hiddleston, Hadley Fraser,
Seen at: the cinema, NT Live screening. Performed at the Donmar Warehouse.
Warnings: graphic gore
Review:Caius Martius has been fighting with Coriolus. Returning to Rome, he is placed in as a senator and given the name Coriolanus. However, with his rude attitude, and the fact that he was made more for war and not politics, this doesn't go well and leads to his exil e and downfall.
I didn't know much about the play. I hadn't heard of it before, and I'm glad it's being done (rarely done plays being done make me happy). I went to see it because a friend of mine really likes Tom Hidldeston and we went to go with her.
We went to a livescreen version (National Theatre, I love you for doing these things) and had a short feature with the presenter woman who is always there, which was a little annoying because I think we all just wanted to see the play. We were kind of surprised at the audience- in a giant cinema screen, there were possibly ten teenagers total? Mostly older people. Also one of our English teachers.
It starts off dramatically, with a boy, Martius' son, coming along and painting a box in red paint on the stage. For most of the first act, the whole cast are on stage, either acting, or simply sitting at the back. This did have the effect of being a little distracting- in the words of another friend, Tomato, “I kept getting distracted by Hadley Fraser's face”.
The scene changes were amazing. They weren't much-just movements of chairs, perfectly timed and choreographs, to dramatic music, but that was enough for this very minimalistic staging propswise. In terms of what they did to the stage-that's a bit less minimalistic. They made paper things come out everywhere. They made a shower scene happen. For Coriolanus. For Tom Hiddleston. I'm sure most people appreciated that.
Tom Hiddleston and Hadley Fraser both play their parts very well. Hiddlestone puts a lot into the way he carries himself in the performance, which I liked. Birgitte Hjort Sorense, who played Virgilia, Martius' wife, was quiet and I liked the way that she was all, with her facial expression and attitude, “seriously?” when Deborah Findley aka Virgilia aka his mother and Mark Gatiss aka Menenius a family friend, was all “Yeah! He's coming back with loads of wounds! He's a man now!”
For the care put into creating the giant wounds across Coriolanus' body, even they're only seen in one short scene, props to the makeup department. And whoever had to go find/make/supply all the fake blood.
Around the middle of the play, I didn't understand Coriolanus. He goes back to Aufidus-the guy he very nearly killed and offers to let Aufidius kill him- and then he gets welcomed like an old friend and I don't understand why Aufidus would be “you nearly killed me a few acts ago” and lets him lead a new assault on Rome.
The ending was really unexpected, and really well carried out. This made the bows mildly amusing- small cast of 14 (I think), all looking immaculate, bar Hiddleston and Fraser, faces totally covered in blood.
Overall: Strength 4 tea to a powerful staging of a play I wish I'd known about before.