Review: Coriolanus at the NT

Last week my son and I watched the National Theatre production of Coriolanus with Tom Hiddleston in the title role. Hiddleston delivers a powerhouse, impressive performance and I dare say that I prefer his Coriolanus to Ralph Fiennes’,  as brilliant as Fiennes’ take on the play is. Hiddleston manages to give the character an emotional human dimension that I feel Fiennes’ performance lacks to a certain extent.  Mark Gatiss as Menenius is simply a delight. He is funny and tragic as it should be and finds the perfect balance between the two. Absolutely memorable.

The cast is generally fine, but unfortunately I am less enthusiastic about some of the other main characters. I found Debora Findley’s rendition of Volumia lacking in emotional honesty and exceeding on screaming. Vanessa Redgrave did a far superior job in Fiennes’ film production. I wonder what Dame Helen Mirren would make of Volumia –  that would be something interesting indeed! Birgitte Hjort Sorensen overplays the sensuous wife and Hardley Fraser overplays the homoerotic bond between the Aufidius and Coriolanus. In fact, it seems almost everyone in the production would not miss the opportunity to give Hiddleston a proper snog – understandable,  but hardly forgiven.

The Donmar is a not an easy space and I believe they did a brilliant job with the minimal props and light. Some critics disliked the mix between Roman togas and modern clothes but I found it refreshing and I can see the concept behind it. I was a bit apprehensive about the final scene though; in such a confined space where we see everything, that could easily go wrong and lack impact. The solution found for it was simply ingenious.

Overall, it was a great theatre experience and one to be remembered.

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