Watching theatre on YouTube is obviously no replacement for the real thing, but I’ve found it hard going of late. I miss the experience of live theatre so much.
Just when I was getting to the point of giving these reviews a rest, along comes this Donmar Warehouse production of Coriolanus from 2013/14, starring Tom Hiddleston in the title role, to put me back on track.
Josie Rourke’s production of Shakespeare’s Roman drama about family, power and politics is, to put it frankly, bloody exhilarating. From the noisy mob protests at the start (“Grain at our own price” is the graffitied message from the plebs) to the devastating final scene, the play never loses its grip.
Hiddleston is brilliant, his eyes sparking with anger (and tears) and he projects a tremendous physical presence throughout. Early on, he’s so smothered with gore that he has to literally wipe the blood out of his eyes so he can see where he’s going.
Away from the muscular fight scenes, even the intimate exchanges between Coriolanus and his mother Volumnia (Deborah Findlay – superb as ever) and wife Virgilia (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen) pack a punch.
There are so many strong performances to enjoy, including Mark Gatiss as Coriolanus’s friend and adviser Menenius, and antagonists Brutus (Elliot Levey) and
Sicinia (Helen Schlesinger) – “a pair of strange ones” as Menenius describes them – as well as Hadley Fraser’s fearsome army general Aufidius.
The camerawork perfectly captures the in-your-face intimacy of the Donmar space. And it makes me miss it all the more. Don’t miss this.
Coriolanus is on the National Theatre at Home YouTube channel until 11 June.