Tom Hiddleston's stage version of Coriolanus delivers muscular drama

Our verdict on the new Shakespeare adap...

At one of the most heart-wrenching moments of Shakespeare's brutal political tragedy, Coriolanus declares that "it is no little thing to make mine eyes sweat compassion".

The same could sometimes be said of theatre audiences, now more used to the manipulation and intimacy of cinematic drama than the unvarnished immediacy of the stage.

But in Donmar Warehouse, artistic director Josie Rourke's stripped down, muscular, moving and yep, filmic production in the Donmar's exposing, enclosed space, spectator emotions are kept satisfyingly high.

Presented as a timeless exploration of war, treason, betrayal, honour and pride (costumes are non-specific, staging bare), the machinations of bloodshed and power are starkly poignant amid headlines of Syria and North Korea.

As is the pathos of a prideful Roman soldier's fall from grace and tragic vengeance - played by Tom Hiddleston as a watchful, prowling big cat, coiled for attack and unwisely assured in his place at the top of food chain.

Owning the role as the fatally confident general, it'll be no surprise to Loki fans that Hiddleston excels at cocky and charismatic.

And though there may be many simply hoping to feast their eyes on the son of Odin with only 249 other people, Hiddleston's raw, emotionally intelligent performance - centrifugal to a minimal, excellent cast (especially Deborah Findlay as Coriolanus' pushy mother) - should transport, quickly banishing thoughts of Asgard. (And if not, a stinging shirtless shower scene should please.)

Meaty, bloody (literally and metaphysically), visceral and affecting, this Coriolanus teases tangible humanity out of what is often a bombastic play, and is worth the fight for a ticket.

And if you can't make it in person, then book a remote seat when the production broadcasts live to cinemas worldwide on 30 January 2014.

For more info go to www.ntlive.com.

For £10 front-row tickets released every Monday go to www.donmarwarehouse.com/barclays-front-row.

For more Hiddleston goodness, watch him (and twenty more stars) choose their favourite superhero - Batman or Superman. Or below that, our cast interviews with the whole cast of Thor: The Dark World...

Comments

    • freeloki

      Dec 18th 2013, 20:08

      Thrilled to see yet another very positive review for "Coriolanus" and its cast, particularly Tom Hiddleston. I am not thrilled, however, the writer assumes and jests that Hiddleston fans haven't the depth to grasp the tragic complexity of the titular character, the actors' craft nor the art of this production and would rather just giggle and ogle a half-naked Loki. Little acknowledged fact: many of Tom Hiddleston's fans share a love of theater, particularly Shakespeare, with him. Such a refined actor would naturally garner fans with refined tastes. Petty assumptions about those who admire him, for whatever reason, are unnecessary and in poor form.

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    • orangehiddles

      Dec 19th 2013, 4:24

      Yeah so agree with you. Fans are more intelligent now and besides Hiddlestoners are no other fans who only ogle and not appreciate the actor's craft, art of a production and others. While ogling at a half-naked Loki is a common reaction, Hiddlestoners are more than just that. I always made this a point that if he was just this handsome English guy in Thor but he's no excellent actor as Loki, he would have been only an eye-candy good to look at for a minute or so but with no lasting appeal. But fans and people took enormous notice and attention to him because he's so excellent as Loki. He wasn't the typical character and typical actor you'd often see in superhero movies. And as we all know, we rarely encounter such an award-worthy performance for any blockbuster, superhero movies.

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    • chibik

      Dec 19th 2013, 12:53

      Fans are more intelligent now? When and how did this happen?

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