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‘Coriolanus’ Review: Classic Shakespearean Angst feat. Tom Hiddleston

And, oh, how the crowd continued to grow… © 2014 Francesca Rodriguez

If there’s one thing I have in abundance, it’s “commitment”. I said, a year ago, that the moment Tom Hiddleston returned to the London stage, I would also return to witness it. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what I did to celebrate the new year after months and months of planning. To be fair, ‘Coriolanus’ wasn’t the ONLY draw; a few of my dearest loves, who I only see once a year, were going to be in London at the same time anyway. We like to party, we miss each other, and we have nothing if not a boner for the Bard (we also caught ‘Henry V’ while there). Catching a plane over the Atlantic for this perfect storm of friends, booze, and stage was something I didn’t even have to think about

And what to tell you about ‘Coriolanus’?! Well, it’s Shakespeare as I’ve never seen it, I can say that. Not that I’m well-read enough to have indulged in every one of his plays, but I’d never heard of ‘Coriolanus’ outside of a brief synopsis involving blood and tears. Being Shakespeare, you kind of expect that anyway. It involves a prideful Roman general, an easily duped populace, a grieving mother, and an ardent “frenemy”; not satisfied with Caius Marcius’ (Coriolanus) lack of humility after a grand victory, said populace turns on him which ends well for no one. Coriolanus aligns with his former foe, Aufidius, who’s always tendered a hidden flame for him, and lays siege to the city that betrayed him. Except, you know, his mom comes begging for mercy and Coriolanus can’t find it in himself to remain the hardened monster he’d become. So Aufidius ends him in a gory yet beautiful fashion, weeping prettily all the while. Shakespeare, people! How can you not love this shit?

Spoils of war! © 2014 Francesca Rodriguez

Obviously, that’s my extremely watered down version of the quite emotional saga. I can’t say if it was because of Tom and the rest of the exceptional cast, or the Bard’s work in general, but we were literally on the edges of our seats. The play is being featured at the Donmar Warehouse and that place is small. I’m talking a max of 250-300 people in an audience. My darlings and I were seated in the balcony and, had the rail been absent, we would have fallen onto the stage, that is how engaged we were. You could feel the energy coming from the actors, the passion pouring forth from their words! Looking around, I couldn’t find a single attendee who wasn’t similarly riveted. “Captivating”, “addictive”, “seductive”, “mesmerizing”, these are all excellent adjectives to describe this production. In the words of the Internet, “I wanted to claw my face off”. Regardless of who/what I can attribute my reaction to, I’ve never experienced Shakespeare like that and can only be grateful to all involved.

Tom Hiddleston was born to do what he does, the equivalent of magic, endlessly drawing the audience in until you feel as if you’re almost a part of the play. Another actor who completely blew me away was Rochenda Sandall who played the “First Citizen”, as well as being part of the ensemble. Unsurprisingly? Both Sandall and Hiddleston were trained at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). Whatever they’re doing there is refining and pumping out a high degree of quality!

This is my boo, Kate. That 'fro in the back talking to Tom is me. That stoic security dude next to us wins all the awards. Basically, this picture says everything about that night.
This is my boo, Kate. That ‘fro in the back, talking to Tom, is me. That stoic security dude next to us wins all the awards. Basically, this picture says everything about that night.

It was lovely to meet Tom again (always a prince), after the evening performance, and I cannot stress enough how wonderful the staff of the Donmar were about the fans waiting outside for autographs. They made everyone line up according to whether or not they had tickets, while security did their best to make sure there were no line-jumpers, all while being incredibly nice and respectful about it! Holy crap! As a NYer, you don’t get as much of that here. And as a NYer who’s gone to her fair share of musicals/plays, it’s worth mentioning that my entire experience at the Donmar Warehouse was the most pleasant of it’s kind that I’ve had. From their Twitter handling, to ticket pickup, to entrance, seating, and meet and greet. Top fucking notch. *FYI, I actually fist-bumped the security dude after meeting Tom because he was definitely an added highlight to my evening. Also, I was a little tipsy.* Since seeing ‘Coriolanus’, I’ve likely gushed about the venue as much as the production itself! If you have the opportunity to see the play in person, please do so; you’ll be treated from start to finish.

‘Coriolanus’ has been extended through to February 13, 2014, holla! NTLive will also be broadcasting a live performance to global theatres on January 30th, 2014.