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Tom Hiddleston impresses with 'compelling' Coriolanus

Josie Rourke's production of Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston in the title role opened at the Donmar Warehouse this week, where it runs until 8 February

By • London
Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus
Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus

Michael Coveney
WhatsOnStage
★★★★

Tom Hiddleston... certainly puts himself through it as Coriolanus... And yet the extraordinary thing about his performance in Josie Rourke's slick and sold-out production... is its unflinching, cold demeanour... It's a simple, spartan story... and Hiddleston rides it like an Olympic horseman... So, Hiddleston's sombre blankness is coloured in by the words and opinions of others... Rourke and designer Lucy Osborne create a high back wall of graffiti, cinematically lit by Mark Henderson... It's a staging at once stark and expressive. The intensity of the play is shared among the whole cast... And what follows suggests that Hiddleston's Coriolanus sees himself as a supple, super-confident games player, rather than a professional, proactive man-of-war... It's an original, and disturbing, interpretation, almost an alternative commentary on the brilliant Ralph Fiennes movie.

Michael Billington
Guardian
★★★★

...Josie Rourke... uses the Donmar Warehouse's intimacy to come up with a fast, witty, intelligent production... Even if I have a few niggles, this is a thoroughly good evening. The first thing one notices is how ingeniously Rourke uses the space...The often-confusing battle-scenes at Corioli are brilliantly done through a simple deployment of chairs, ladders and descending fireballs... And what is good about Hiddleston's Coriolanus is that he conveys the hero's complexity... [he] embodies the character's reckless impetuosity and political intransigence... Hiddleston gives us a man ultimately destroyed by his own headlong nature... Deborah Findlay provides a vividly rounded portrait of Volumnia as a woman whose attitude to her son is a mix of hero worship and exasperation... I was less persuaded by the idea of making the Volscians plain-speaking north country folk and Hadley Fraser as Aufidius slightly overplays the palpable homoerotic bond he has with Coriolanus

Paul Taylor
Independent
★★★★

In her finest achievement to date as artistic director of the Donmar Warehouse Josie Rourke directs this stark, swiftly-paced account of Shakespeare's severe Roman play and elicits a central performance of blazing stellar power and intelligence from Tom Hiddleston... A strapping hawk-like figure, Hiddleston exudes the arrogance and dangerous charisma of one of nature's cruel head-prefects...This is in no way a sentimentalised portrayal. Hiddleston delivers Coriolanus's speeches of contempt for the plebeians with a blistering scorn and mocks them with a wheedling parody of subservience when forced to woo their votes for the consulship... Stealthily, though, Hiddleston's magnificent performance compels you to feel what an awful fate it is to be Coriolanus... Deborah Findlay is superb as his ferociously doting, militaristic mother... But I've never known the savage ending carry the poignant charge it has here...

Charles Spencer
Daily Telegraph
★★★★

There is a good deal about Josie Rourke's new production of Shakespeare's Coriolanus, starring Tom Hiddleston, that I found irritating...But these are merely the trappings of a production that is often exciting and intense... Rourke's production excitingly captures the play's political process as Coriolanus goes from hero to zero... But this harsh, flinty tragedy becomes suddenly moving in the last act as Coriolanus's mother, wife... and son try to persuade him not to take revenge on the Rome that has banished him. Here, Hiddleston marvellously captures a sudden piercing tenderness and love, as if experiencing these overwhelming emotions for the first time... But though this is a flawed production, there is no mistaking its dramatic energy, while the mixture of charisma and emotional truth in Hiddleston's performance is very special indeed.

Henry Hitchings
Evening Standard
★★★★

Tom Hiddleston returns to the London stage with a compelling performance. The violent and treacherous Roman general Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare's most bloodthirsty creations, but Hiddleston focuses on his arrogance and elusive coolness. He does an impressive job of suggesting the emotional inadequacy of this self-deluding, impulsive loner – as well as the strange complexity of his motives... Josie Rourke's production is lucid, lean and finely controlled...There are crisp performances throughout. Mark Gatiss has the right mix of candour and smoothness... Birgitte Hjort Sørensen from Borgen nicely conveys the graciously silent manner of Coriolanus's wife Virgilia, and Deborah Findlay is memorably ardent as his mother Volumnia, who educates him in the art of flattery. A few scenes are underpowered, but this is a tense and thoughtful account of one of Shakespeare's less admired works...

Tags: Donmar WarehouseJosie RourkeTom HiddlestonShakespeareCoriolanusDeborah FindlayLucy OsbourneMark Henderson


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