Wednesday, March 12, 2014

National Theatre Live: Coriolanus

There's a spot of claret about. 

Last night was date night and Mrs Kinch took me to see Coriolanus - National Theatre Live.  For those who are unfamiliar, National Theatre Live is a filmed theatrical performance which is then shown in cinemas.  The first performance is live, but we missed it because we were both working - so it was great to catch an encore.  The production was put together by the National, while the show itself was performed in the Donmar.

The show is incredible - absolutely fantastic.  Spell binding stuff. 

There was a fifteen minute interval, during which the director spoke about the direction she wanted the production to go in and the choices that she made.  I found this a bit confusing as I didn't see much of a connection between her stated intention to talk about the plebs of Rome and the struggle of their tribunes. 

The Tribunes of the people were as slimy  as I expected, the people as fickle, Coriolanus as noble. But whatever the thinking behind it - it was a superb show. 

Tom Hiddlestone as Coriolanus was fantastic and delivered an electrifying performance. Physically impressive as well as superbly acted. I don't normally like Mark Gatiss. He makes an exceptionally irritating Mycroft Holmes, but as Menenius he was wonderful. His lightness of touch, whimsy and depth of feeling, particularly in his last speech, were the work of a mature craftsman at the top of his game. 

But if the boys were good, the real star of the show was Deborah Findlay as Volumnia, Coriolanis's mother.  She was every inch the Roman matriarch.  Tough, but not unfeeling, brave and loving.  She was electric - I cannot write enough good things about her. She owned the stage in every moment she was on it. The relationship between her and Tom Hiddlestone was beautifully nuanced and intensely real.  She was superb.  I regret to say that she doesn't seem to have picked up an awards nods for it though. 

Good plays about duty are rare these days, so we must find old ones. Coriolanus is not often performed (though the Ralph Fiennes film of 2011 is well worth seeing), I suppose because its themes are not much in accord with the 21st century as we live it. But if you want to be transported to another world and see a masterpiece performed by a cast at the top of their game - I would urge you to see this. 


  1. I like watching Shakespeare on film, and it sounds like this will be a great watch. I certainly hope it's not like the 1995 cinematic butchery performed on Richard III.

  2. I love Shakespeare on film - actually there's a blog post in that somewhere. As for Dicky Three, I thought Ian McKlellan did a rather good job - but tastes differ.

  3. Excellent - haven't seen Coriolanus in a long, long, time... probably the RSC in the 70's... must keep an eye open for this production...

  4. Excellent review, Conrad. Tom Hiddlestone is pretty good generally, but sometimes seems a bit lightweight in the build/frame department. Great to hear that he owned the stage in all senses. Mark Gatiss seems to be one of those people that most wargamers and roleplayers would have a fair bit in common with - and certainly a skilful actor. Great to hear you had a great evening. It's a cracking play.