Theatre Review: Coriolanus, Donmar Warehouse
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4.5/5 With an incredible performance from star Tom Hiddleston, Josie Rourke’s production of Coriolanus is tense, visceral and unforgettable. Assisted by a very talented cast and inventive staging, both the political strife of Rome and the personal struggles of Coriolanus spring to life in the intimate small-scale space of the Donmar Warehouse. Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s least-adapted and little-known plays, even after the release of Ralph Fiennes’ excellent 2011 film version, but based on this production, the play has plenty of reasons to merit revisiting. Here is a Rome threatened by famine, with scrawled graffiti across the stage demanding grain for the ‘plebs’, the common people, who are endlessly at odds with war hero Coriolanus. As the undisputed star of the show Tom Hiddleston is absolutely magnetic as the eponymous Coriolanus. Best known as the villainous Loki in Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and Thor franchises, here he delivers a performance of great subtlety and power. Caius Martius Coriolanus is not Shakespeare’s greatest tragic hero: he does not have the grand soliloquies of Hamlet or Macbeth, and is not particularly self-reflective. Coriolanus is, first and foremost, a soldier, granted the name of Coriolanus for almost single-handedly conquering the city of Corioles. The siege on Corioles is incredibly powerful, as Hiddleston urges his soldiers (including a terrific Alfred Enoch, better known as Dean Thomas of the Harry Potter films) to “Put your shields before your hearts, and fight / With hearts more proof than shields,” as they bear chairs as battering rams before scaling the walls of the theatre, with Hiddleston clambering easily up the ladder that dominates centre stage to attack the city alone.
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