Coriolanus – 7.9

As with every Shakespeare play, I wish I had read at least the first two acts before witnessing the production, to familiarize myself with the dialogue as well as the characters. Not having done this, I found 50% of the lines unintelligible, despite the actors’ good efforts. Nevertheless, the acting was so good that the meat of the argument rang through, and by play’s end I was riveted.
Kudos first and foremost for Ralph Fiennes’s conception, the best updating of Shakespeare I have ever seen. The modern – TV news and tanks – coexisted with the historical – addressing the public in the forum and knife fights – seamlessly. We didn’t know what era we were in, but it was a timeless one. And that, I believe, was Fiennes’s point: the political views of Shakespeare’s play ring as true today as they did in Elizabethan England or ancient Rome. Government by the people? A bad idea. Government by the politicians? Just as bad. I see today’s Republicans intent on nothing but bringing down Obama, and I see Shakespeare’s tribunes undermining Caius Martius. And how different are the Occupy Wall Streeters from the Roman citizens demonstrating for grain?
Finally, the acting is superb: Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia, Brian Cox as Menenius, Jessica Chastain (she is everywhere!) as Coriolanus’s wife and, of course, Fiennes himself as the tragic hero.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *