If you haven’t yet seen a play performed at the Donmar Warehouse, it’s time you did. If you have been before, you will know already why this intimate performance space offers such an immersive and somewhat confronting environment for enjoying fine performance.
The Donmar is currently playing host to Corilanus. A lesser known play of Shakespeare’s, it is perhaps his most bloody and violent. The Donmar is such a fitting home for this play, not least because of its long association with world class Shakespearian performance, but also as a venue it allow you to feel close and connected with the cast, close enough to feel the character of the broken soul of the General Coriolanus behind the arrogance and blood thirstiness. Of course this is not just facilitated by the theatre, but also a fine performance by Tom Hiddleston.
The cast all round delivers outstanding performances, although Deborah Findlay as Corilanous’ mother Volumnia is still a stand out. The direction has taken on creative interpretations, without going over the top, making the historic story accessible and (almost) relatable to a modern audience unfamiliar to the play, as well as some choices possibly made to polarise the audience, such as casting a female (Hannah Schlesinger) as Sicinia, the leading plotter against Coriolanus. They have also managed to successfully condense the play to under three hours without losing any of the effect and story.
Set in Roman times, the play tells the story of celebrated military hero Coriolanus and his struggles to both retain the power and reverence of the Roman people the face of scheming manipulation and plotted revenge, along with the conflict of what was once most boasted about him becoming what is his potentially his downfall.
Coriolanus is showing until 8 February at the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden.