If you missed the National Theatre’s recent live streaming of Coriolanus then you saved yourself an unpleasant evening.
It showed us unpleasant and disagreeable people disagreeing – arrogant, insensitive, inhumane, psychopathic, violent, unjust, uncaring, bullying, manipulative, cruel. Coriolanus is not a cheery play and certainly not one I would wish to see again.
Especially at the start, actors seemed to think that shouting the lines equated with good acting. For my liking lines were delivered too fast so comprehension was reduced.
Coriolanus has a thin storyline and there was the usual problem with Shakespeare that he had far too many words.
Most characters had no discernible character to reveal. The only people with some depth were Caius Marcius (Coriolanus) and Volumnia, his mother. Menenius, Coriolanus’s friend, was an interesting man who was played as the Jacob Rees-Mogg of ancient Rome. All three were impressively acted – by Tom Hiddleston, Deborah Findlay and Mark Gatiss.
The play lacked subtlety and depth. -. It was just brutally violent and nasty. The issues were simple power politics, principally the exploitative rich vs the deserving poor.
I think, now, that I have probably seen enough Shakespeare plays for one lifetime.
David Roberts, 17th June 2020.a