Author : William Shakespeare
Theatre : Donmar Warehouse, London
Director : Josie Rourke
Dates : From 06 Dec 2013 to 13 Feb 2014 (seen the 1st of February)
Running time : 2h40 (with interval)
Story : Caius Martius, a great warrior and general, is blamed for taking the grain from plebeians. But his victory against Aufidius when he attacks Rome makes the people admire him. By winning a duel against Aufidius, he gains the nickname of Coriolanus. With this victory, his mother, Volumnia, encourage him to run for the consul. Coriolanus doesn’t really want that but listen to his mother anyway. However, his hatred and contempt for the plebeians make him lose the elections. Worse, his rage and lack of self-control finish by betray him and he is banned by the tribunes.
He then reaches Antium to find Aufidius and give his life. But Aufidius is moved by his plight and offers him to fight alongside him and try to strike Rome on more time. Rome is desperate when it sees Coriolanus and Aufidius coming to get them, and neither Cominius or Menenius, two of closest Coriolanus friends and last supporters, managed to convince him to stop. At the end, Volumnia, as well as Coriolanus’s wife and son, persuade him to stop the siege and make peace with Rome. But when Coriolanus come back to Aufidius with the treaty, he’s killed by his old enemy for his betrayal.
The journey to have the ticket was quite epic. After missing the original selling, I had to wait december to try having the “£10 Barclays front row ticket“, then , seeing that I would be in the queue apparently , I’ve tried to wait, several saturday in a row, at the theatre itself. First at 10a.m. (and this was really foolish of me) and finally at 3h30 in the morning. This very night, I mean day (the wait has been long), I finally got my ticket.
I’m not an english native, so except Romeo & Juliet, I didn’t know a lot of Shakespeare’s work. Maybe a bit of Hamlet, a little less of Macbeth. Quite a lot about the Hollow Crown cycle, because I watched the BBC2 series about it, but that’s all. However, since I’m in England, I kind of fell in love with the author and I love to see his plays on stage. When I learn that Mark Gatiss and Tom Hiddleston were in Coriolanus, I couldn’t miss it, even thought I had absolutely no idea of the story behind this roman name. It was just not possible I miss this play and seeing it with the National Theatre Live wasn’t an option for me.
I have to admit that I didn’t understand everything. The Shakespearian’s language is sometimes really hard. Despite this little difficulty, I’ve loved the play. The Donmar Warehouse is a really nice and small theatre and the directing was so great that I could understand the most important things. The scene where Coriolanus and Aufidius are sword-fighting is amazing. I love swords, I have some myself (even though I don’t know how to use it) and I suppose it’s a lot because of these weapons that I love fantasy and History so much. Ironically, it was the first time I saw a “real” fight with it and it was joyful. At least for me. I know they are stage swords and the actors can’t be harmed to much with the kind of weapons, but it feels so real.
But what I really enjoyed was seeing the actors playing. I had the pleasure to see more than two faces I knew. Alfred Enoch, who I’ve seen in Harry Potter and more recently in Sherlock, really surprise me, in a good way. He can go really far. I also recognise Mark Stanley from Game of Thrones. I’ve always like his character, Grenn, and discovering him on stage was a really nice thing. Like Enoch, he deserve to be known.
There’s one I didn’t know before that night and I found him properly good, it was Hadley Fraser, in the role of Aufidius. The strange thing is that he doesn’t have a really big role, when we think of it. We don’t see him a lot, but every time, he’s excellent and we can’t forget him.
But there’s two who really astonished me. First Mark Gatiss, because this guy, it’s been several years I didn’t know what to think of him. The episodes he wrote for Doctor Who are not my favorite, as well as I don’t really like “The Lazarus Experiment” when he started to play in the show to. On the other hand, I love his writing work on “Sherlock” (well, I have to say I love all the Sherlocks) and I love and hate his Mycroft at the same time. Seeing him Menenius finally put an end to my dilemma : I love this guy ! He’s just excellent in everything he does and I almost want to say that his genius is greater than Moffat. Also, all my Sherlockians and Whovians are so jealous I’ve been able to see him on stage and that feels good.
Nevertheless, there’s really only one who stole the show, who’s better than everyone else on stage, who’s not playing the character but IS the character : It’s Tom Hiddleston. This one, I know him before “Thor” (take that, Loki’s Army !). I haven’t seen all his work, but every time I saw him, I was astonished by how good he is. Seeing him on stage made it a bit worse, I think. He’s a true actor, he’s leaving what he’s playing and it’s so amazing to see that in real. Before that night, I couldn’t tell who was my favourite actor (It changes a lot. One day, it would be Colin Morgan and the day after, it would be Benedict Cumberbatch. But two hours later, it also could have been Ewan McGregor or Jennifer Lawrence…I’m really unstable about that…) but now, it won’t change before a really long time. I don’t like the fact that he’s so well known, most people will say “who doesn’t like him”, but I still have the satisfaction that I don’t like him for Loki, but for all his work (just remember him in Wallander…)
So, that all I have to say. Even if I didn’t understand everything, I loved this play. It’s my favourite of the 4 I saw in England (The Tempest, Mojo,Richard II and Coriolanus, obviously) and I’ve loved the first three. I haven’t got the chance to have autograph (I could have Alfred Enoch’s one, but anyway, I’m to shy for that. I always have the impression I will disturb if I ask…), but I could see Tom when he was leaving the theatre, with Helena Boham Carter and Robert Knepper. This guy is too nice with his fans. I didn’t see him saying anything when a group started to harassing him (following, stalking, disturbing him. Call it whatever you want. But it was rude as hell).
In short, it was a really, really nice night. One of the best in my life. Oh, that sounds so cheesy…
Mark : 8/10 (Just 8, because I couldn’t understand all the dialogue, but it’s mostly because of me…)
Here’s the trailer for the National Theatre Live :