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Coriolanus
Directed by Jousie Rourke
Live broadcast from the National Theatre, London, UK on January 30, 2014

This week I attended another live broadcast from London. National Theatre's production of Coriolanus was screened in cinemas around the world from the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden.

Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays. In fact, I haven't seen it on the playlist of any of the 7 seasons I've attended in Stratford. I had neither read the play, so getting treated to a 400-year old play for the first time was an exciting experience.

Set in Rome, before it became the well-known Empire, Coriolanus tells the story of Caius Martius, a general in the Roman army. After his victory over the Volscian town of Corioles and its Commander Aufidius, he's awarded for his bravery with the byname Coriolanus. On his return to Rome, his ambitious mother Volumnia urges him to run for consul. He easily receives the support from the Roman Senate, but has a problem with asking the common people for their voices in the traditional humble way. Due to his arrogance and previously uttered hatred of the plebeians, two tribunes undermine his plans and cause a riot against him. Coriolanus flees from Rome and offers his services to Aufidius, intent to take revenge. Together, they lead the assault against Rome. During the siege, his former friends Menenius and Cominius fail to persuade Coriolanus to halt his crusade for vengeance. His mother Volumnia finally succeeds in dissuading him from destroying Rome and concluding a peace treaty instead between the Volscians and Rome. When Aufidius hears about this, he calls Coriolanus a traitor and kills him for his betrayal.

Coriolanus was played by Tom Hiddleston. I didn't know him, but apparently he is well known for his role as Loki in the Thor movies, which I haven't seen. He was in very good shape, as was seen particularly in the well choreographed fight scenes with Aufidius. In a chilling sequence in the end he is pulled up with his feet on a chain which causes him dangling upside down from the ceiling while his throat is being slashed.

Menenius was played by Mark Gatiss. I knew him from BBC's Sherlock where he plays Mycroft whom I like very much. I had no idea that he was in the play, so this was a lovely surprise.

Other notable appearances were Deborah Findlay as Volumnia, Peter de Jersey as Cominius, Helen Schlesinger as Sicinia and Birgitte Hjort Sørensen as Coriolanus' wife Virgilia.

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