Last night I had the privilege of seeing Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston as it was broadcast live around the world from the Donmar Warehouse in London courtesy of National Theatre Live. I can’t say thank you enough.
The production was brilliant and clever and fabulous in every way possible from the stark grey/red stage to the minimalist costumes to the special effects of water and fake blood. Each element was evocative of ancient Rome and brought the world Shakespeare captured in his play to life.
Watching Tom Hiddleston breathe humanity into the tragic hero was like watching Botticelli paint. Beautiful and mesmerizing. I can’t even begin to describe in words Hiddles talent. It must be experienced. He sucked me in at the beginning, spit me back out at the end, bloodied and heartbroken but all the wiser in the process. I loved every minute of it even though later I ended up having disturbing dreams filled with images of Tom, blood pouring down his face intermingled with flashing swords cutting flesh and tall dark shadowy figures looming over me.
I’d seen another production of this play at UofT’s Hart House with Jeremy Hutton as Coriolanus a few years ago and although that production was also good I didn’t sympathize with the character as much.
Added bonus was Mark Gatiss, of Doctor Who fame, as Menenius.
My only criticism is the character of Virgilia, Coriolanus's wife. Basically her entire existence is to kiss Coriolanus 5 times and to come with Volumnia to beg mercy for Rome. Not that kissing Tom H is a bad gig if you can get it but a reflection on Shakespeare where he could have done so much more with the character. Birgitte Hjort Sørensen did a decent job in the almost non-existent role.
It is being rebroadcast on February 22, 2014 so if you didn’t get a chance to see it please find a theatre near you. I promise you will not be disappointed. I’d love to see it again.