Gone are the days where you could only watch West End theatre in person; now with the art of digital downloads theatre is so much more accessible. National Theatre live are taking the process of bringing people closer to theatre by bringing it into cinemas. Across the UK and worldwide, various operas and stage shows have been available in the cinemas and my first venture into this new genre of theatre in a cinema was to see the Donmar Warehouse production of the William Shakespeare play Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston in the title role with support from Mark Gatiss.

The production itself was absolutely fantastic – with such a small theatre space it was utilised to its full potential, keeping the set quite minimal and using only a small array of props (chairs were very well used, and I enjoyed the Brechtian style of having the company sit across the back wall for most of the play). The company itself were great, with several of them having dual roles; Hiddleston was the main reason I wanted to see this production and he didn’t disappoint. The Shakespearean language rolls of his tongue as if he were born to say it, bringing wit and comedy but also passion, anger and Coriolanus’ ignorance to the role.

There was some stand out moments in the production; it was quite physical at times, particularly an early fight scene between Coriolanus and Aufidius which was quite complex. The end scene between Coriolanus, his wife, his son and his mother was really beautiful to watch; you could feel the emotion pouring from all of the actors, with genuine tears from Tom Hiddleston. The end which sees Hiddleston stringed up with blood dripping from his throat is powerful and signals the end of a power driven play.

As well as the actual production being amazing, another element to consider in this review is the element of live theatre steamed into a cinema. It of course made it slightly less authentic, having carefully placed cameras surrounding the theatre space, but it also made the audience feel as if they were there. A movie experience but with live theatre – you wouldn’t have seen facial expressions that close up, everything’s a lot bigger, more focused. However that doesn’t mean to say at time there were some awkwardness; there was one moment which caused a small commotion in the cinema when the gay overtones in the play were explored in which Aufidius kisses Coriolanus. Of course this wouldn’t have been allowed in the theatre (or at least you would have got some dirty looks off fellow theatregoers). We also wouldn’t have had the annoying lady introducing the play and the constant promos for other plays but that’s just an outside aspect.

The thing that stuck out the most was the very end; the curtain call. Of course you want to show your appreciation, and there are only a few occasions I’ve wanted to clap or have at the end of a film in the cinema but this was live theatre – do you clap? They won’t be able to hear you so what’s the point? Nonetheless I clapped, and so did others, but it wasn’t sustained or particularly enthusiastic despite the brilliant performance. Perhaps this is where the notion of theatre in cinemas falls down – the live appreciation is lost.

A fabulous production, however and I left with an invigorated love for Tom Hiddleston (who has the most beautiful blue eyes)

7 thoughts on “Coriolanus

  1. I really wish I’d gone to see this. A couple of my friends did and they raved about it! Sounds like Hiddleston was brilliant. I’ve seen clips of him doing Shakespeare before, and it’s a shame when people only link him with Loki (though he is awesome at that, too). Will have to keep an eye out for another one of these. With the clapping thing, I’ve seen people clapping in the cinema before, for a movie, and quite enthusiastically…even though they can’t hear you, it’s still a sort of nice way to show appreciation. And who knows? Maybe they ask the people who run the cinemas for feedback?

    • I can imagine him doing more theatre – I believe War Horse is coming up in cinemas if you wanted to experience theatre in the cinema. I’ve clapped once or twice but never instigated it (although when I went to see Argo I so wanted to clap). That is a point though about feedback, that could happen.

      • I’ll have to keep an eye out for that! It would be good if they gave feedback. It must be great to get a sense, in a theatre, that people have really enjoyed it, but imagine if you had people telling you that cinemas around the country enjoyed it too. I’ll have to keep an eye out for War Horse. Haven’t seen the film, but have heard the stage version is far superior.

        Instigating stuff…when I went to see Full Monty on stage, I did manage to get the whole theatre booing Thatcher. My dad looked so proud when I told him afterwards. 😛

      • It was right at the start, they had a clip of Thatcher saying “The lady is not for turning”. One of the things I loved about the show was the audience; the tickets weren’t overly expensive (£30 and we were forth row from the front) so it was a very different audience than you’d get for most theatre shows (I’ve seen tickets for the same seats in the same theatre for more than £50). It was majority women, too. And the main guy in it was in Stella, so no idea if he would have had the same reaction outside of Cardiff, but after the show finished everyone flocked to the stage door to congratulate him and tell him how amazing he was. He looked at me and my mate as if he was surprised there were women there under middle-age. My mate summed it up best; “It’s great to see a theatre full of women watching a show about men’s issues.”

        A very different experience to when I paid £70 a ticket to see Jesus Christ Superstar in an arena. We were really, really far back, and the main cast just couldn’t be bothered to come out afterwards to greet their fans. What annoyed me more about that was that it was just after the reality show looking for Jesus, so the guy playing him wouldn’t even have the part without the public.

      • That always annoys me when actors just don’t go out the stage door – take 5 minutes to appreciate fans that just want to say thank you. Although i do understand that they must be knackered and after some behaviour I’ve witnessed at stage doors, some times I don’t blame them.

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