Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kicked me right in the...

...Coriolanus was a pleasant surprise! I must say I haven't really enjoyed any of director Elijah Moshinsky's three previous entries into the BBC Shakespeare. But Coriolanus turns out to be one of the strongest productions in the entire series.

I think the reason is simple: Moshinsky cast good actors, and pointed his camera at them. Gone were the self-consciously "painterly" screen compositions he seemed preoccupied with creating before. Here he rightly put the emphasis on the actors. Alan Howard delivers a fascinating, riveting portrayal of Caius "Cory" Marcius, sneering contemptuously, his voice hacking and slashing through the text like an expensive buzz saw. Howard doesn't spare us any of Coriolanus' petulant childishness either, making for a dynamic portrait of a complex, deeply flawed character.

And while I have no other production to compare with, the homoerotic dynamic between Coriolanus and Aufidius was certainly given full measure here. Mike Gwilym seemed a bit young opposite Howard, but was otherwise excellent. Irene Worth very nearly steals the show as Coriolanus' mother Volumnia, but that somehow seems proper in the context of the play. And we're also afforded an opportunity to bask in the aural glory of two of the deepest-voiced Brits ever to grace the stage, Joss Ackland and Valentine Dyall.

So three cheers for Moshinsky, who made a fascinating, fast-paced production from a challenging play.

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