January 30th, 2014
|08:45 pm - "O, mother, mother!/What have you done?"|
The subject line? One of the most famous passages in Shakespeare's Coriolanus, the Donmar Warehouse production beamed 'round the world today for NT Live. I drove a 260-mile round trip in horrendous weather to see it.
Let us pass over the horrors of the drive and the oddness of the audience at the live showing (which started at 2 pm where I am) being half Tom Hiddlestoners and half retirees, with a scattering of people taking a day off work. Er, me. ANYWAY...
Josie Rourke's production for the Donmar is constrained but also freed by the 251-seat auditorium of the theatre; where most productions have casts of dozens at least for the mob scenes, she makes do with a skilled supporting cast of maybe five or six who play Roman plebeians, Volscians, and whoever else they have to. That throws the focus right where it should be -- on Coriolanus, his family and friends, and his enemies in and out of Rome,.
Tom Hiddleston is a superb Caius Martius Coriolanus, suggesting at various times a world-class soldier, an aristo rage-monster, and a lost soul who is undone by his own heart. He's definitely... not softer, but perhaps sweeter than the usual Coriolanus. He's convincingly athletic, and the costumes showcase that honed physique. He can be delightfully funny, then tender with his wife and mother (more of them in a sec), then I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU WITH MY WORDS with the plebeians. Great verse-speaking, physicality, soul -- yeah, Hiddles is the real deal.
Let's talk then about wife and mother. Birgitte Hjort Sorenson takes the generally thankless part of Virgilia, the wife Coriolanus calls "my gracious silence" and then mostly ignores, and makes her vivid, tough enough to stand with her mother-in-law, and in honest love with her husband. Speaking of mothers, ALL the applause for Deborah Findlay's Volumnia. This character is usually a martial Roman bitch queen (see Vanessa Redgrave in Ralph Fiennes' film of Coriolanus), but Findlay finds all the sweet reason and straight-on love the role affords, whilst still convincingly turning into Mother Rage-Monster when necessary. I really appreciated that these two women interrogated their parts and worked the contradictions into full, rich characters.
Also loved Elliot Levey's Brutus and Helen Schlesinger's Sicinia (the latter male role made into a great woman's part) as the scheming tribunes of the people, and was happy to see Peter de Jersey as Cominius. (I always find him so sweet and sort of oddly cuddly, from his turn as David Tennant's Horatio to his coroner in Broadchurch. Hi Peter, hi!) But I have saved one actor for last --
Mark Gatiss is the PERFECT Menenius, full-stop, the end, we have achieved the Platonic ideal of the role. He is smart, witty, silver-tongued, and ultimately lost, and I adored his work beyond the telling.
Okay, okay. It is absolutely Hiddleston's evening with amazing coups de theatre like the ascent into Corioles, the shower on stage while blood pours off him, and the end with him strung up by his feet (which cannot have been pleasant). It is Hiddleston's evening because he makes it so. DAMN, son.
EDITED TO ADD: Also, because we live in the future now and I was seeing the live simulcast, I got to tweet with paratti --who was in London watching it -- during the interval! Hurrah!
Afterward I drove through hellish rain, traffic, and dark to come home to Master Danger and a spot of (decaf) tea. But I'll be thinking about blue eyes awash with tears. "O mother, mother, what have you done?"
Cheers to you all, and may you have joys in the midst of rain.
|Date:||January 31st, 2014 02:08 am (UTC)|| |
So very, very good, all of them.
Living in the future rocks:)
It was so fun to 'watch' it with you! :)
And the cast was extraordinary.
|Date:||January 31st, 2014 03:46 am (UTC)|| |
It really was. Worth seeing if there's an Encore Presentation sometime in your fair city. :)
Cheers and a good weekend!
So v.v. cool, and such a fresh interpretation with such pretty, awesome people. :)
Cheers and hugs!
The things we do for love. :-) Sounds fantastic.
Yes, I was thinking that as a double-trailer truck tried to edge me into a concrete barrier in the midst of pouring rain on the way home. But still, WORTH IT. :)
So good that you got to see it! And that you returned safe and well, says the DD.
I've been discovering that white tea is very low caf....
Because I was gone so long, I arranged for his usual petsitter to come in to feed him dinner and give him a late afternoon walk. He clearly thought that this meant I was gone, so when I came back, there was wild rejoicing and then herding displeasure. ;)
The play was fabulous.
Cheers and a great day, possibly with white tea!
|Date:||January 31st, 2014 09:47 am (UTC)|| |
Sounds fabulous. I didn't go because much as I like Hiddleston, Gatiss and Deborah Findlay I saw a production of Coriolanus at the NT years ago with Ian McKellen and *hated* it. You're making me regret my decision now :)
So pleased you enjoyed it and got home safely!
The play IS a difficult one. I love it, but it's an intellectual love, appreciating the openness of it to various interpretations, appreciating the complex presentation of political truths, appreciating the language and Shakespeare's sheer fucking audacity in writing these hairpin emotional turns and making them work. I do understand the traditional accusations that it's a twisted or cold play, and I can imagine productions emphasizing that. This production, really strikingly, gave the play enormous heart. That's down to Hiddleston and Findlay and Gatiss as much as the director. :)
Cheers, K! Hugs and a good weekend!
|Date:||January 31st, 2014 03:06 pm (UTC)|| |
I do understand the traditional accusations that it's a twisted or cold play
Yes, that's what I thought. I came away completely cold but it may be that the small space of the Donmar makes it easier to bring out the warmer aspects. The vast space of the Olivier can work brilliantly but it can leave you much more "outside" the production than the Donmar.
Hugs and a good weekend to you too.
I do think Donmar/NT Live combination does invite the viewer in more, and also, Tom Hiddleston and Deborah Findlay in particular are clearly looking for any moment of vulnerability and human connection their characters might have, emphasizing their humanity. So, yes, much warmer.
It was just so fabulous. [beams]
Hugs and a good weekend!
I SO want to see this -- my local (ish) theatres all have the February 16 encore, and I am hoping hoping hoping 2014 will calm down enough to give me a few hours that day.
But glad to know it was amazing.
I hope you get to see it, absolutely! Worth it if you can scrape together the time. [nods emphatically]
Oooh, I'm going to have to see if/when they show that in our area.
Go if you can. It's just GREAT.
:) Hugs, happy Friday!
I've never heard of the play :) But I'm glad you enjoyed it even if the drive was not good.
It's late Shakespeare, and one of my favorites. :) Cheers and hugs and a great weekend!
Oh, I'm so jealous! I am going to an encore presentation showing here in February. I can't wait. Thanks for that wonderful review. I bow to the power of the Hiddleston. XD
You'll get to see it! Hurrah hurrah! :)
We do live in an age of miracles. I'm glad you got to see it, and had a safe trip.
If I stop to think about watching a simulcast of a great English play performance and communicating with a friend in real-time.... it's just unbelievable. But it happened!
Hugs and a great Saturday!