Like a dull actor, I have forgot my part …. No, he is grown from man to dragon.
Putting next to each other, a work as Coriolanus and a small theater without stage as the Donmar, it may seem like a paradox worthy of the best Zeno.
But, if we avoid the frustrating war to get a ticket, we can see how clever and perfect is Josie Rourke’s work.
I was lucky enough to see the show twice: the opening night and now.
Well, during the first night nothing went wrong but certainly after a month, the performances are on a different level.
The play starts with some men intent on writing graffiti on the wall. We can read “Annona Plebi” in white and during the play these messages change based on the occurrence: “Grain at our Prince”, “Martius”, “It shall be so”, “Enemy of the people”, “Traitor”, “Death”.
The confusing battle-scenes just out the walls of Corioli are brilliant: just a simple deployment of chairs, a stairway that Caius Marius uses to get into the city and descending fireballs.
Everything fits perfectly, especially the scene changes made parts of the show itself.
The story unfortunately loses in intensity, but this is the price to pay for bringing the play under three hours.
Despite the cut of the text, the story is understandable even for those less familiar with the original Shakespeare’s play.
Coriolanus is a man who rejects bribes. His first thought after a bloody battle is for a man who gave him shelter. He handles the tirade in the senate against the people.
Here Hiddleston is now more irreverent and cheeky than the opening night.
Deborah Findlay is a great Volumnia: she is a strong woman, always ready to spurn his son to the exasperation.
Mark Gatiss is a wonderful Menenius and Brigitte Hjort is particularly convincing when she tries to dissuade her husband from destroy Rome with her sensuous arts.
Hadley Fraser as Aufidius and Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus have an excellent chemistry. But, in the opening night their characters’ homoerotic bond was much more palpable than now.
Even the near-final scene between Coriolanus and his son, in this last representation has lost slightly in intensity. Perhaps because the first night, the cry of Coriolanus was also the cry of a Tom Hiddleston aware of the magnificence of the spectacle that he had given and that he was about to conclude. He could read this in the eyes of the audience so close to him in this theatre.
What certainly has acquired depth is the last scene. If, on the first night, perhaps because unexpected, it strikes at the heart, it is definitely an ingenious choice that, almost alone, worth the price of the ticket.
What can I say about Tom Hiddleston?
“He is the rock, the oak not to be wind-shaken”