When one hears the name William Shakespeare the titles Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and A Midsummer Night's Dream come to mind. Shakespeare's Coriolanus is a lesser known play that has all the essential Shakespeare standards. Love, death, and complete emotional drama are the ingredients that every successful Shakespeare play has. Coriolanus was written around 1608 and is one of Shakespeare’s most mature tragedies, written at a time when the he was at the peak of his creative power.
Coriolanus begins with Caius Martius, later named Coriolanus, saving Rome by defeating the Volscians. The citizens of Rome nominate him for Consul, but the nomination must be approved by officers Brutus and Sicinius, who hate him. When Coriolanus is accused of treason, Brutus and Sicinius force the citizens to banish Coriolanus from Rome forever. Furious, Coriolanus joins the Volscian's and their general, Aufidius, to destroy Rome. Without a military leader, the desperate citizens of Rome send Coriolanus' wife, Virgilia, and his mother, Volumnia, to plead for Rome's safety. After his mother begs for his retreat, Aufidius kills Coriolanus for betraying the Volscian's. Coriolanus is given a hero's funeral and peace is celebrated throughout Rome.
Theatre for a New Audience is running Coriolanus at the Gerald W. Lynch Theatre at John Jay College. The production features Christian Camargo as the mighty Coriolanus. Christian has been seen in such television features as HBO's Double Bang, CSI and Without a Trace. Christian’s portrayal of Caius Martius Coriolanus is astounding. His knowledge of the Shakespearean text is unbelievably impressive. For once I felt like I could follow a Shakespeare play without pulling my hair out. Christian's riveting performance sent shivers ran down my spine.
Another incredible performance was Roberta Maxwell, who played Coriolanus' mother. Roberta's performance in the fifth act was unbelievable. Her pleading, for the survival of Rome, was heart-wrenching. You could see the pain and desperation on her face while she pleaded for her life and the lives of the citizens of Rome. It was the most moving moment in the entire show.
The rest of the cast was incredible. Their ease with the text was amazing, which made the show extremely enjoyable to watch. Everyone was really connected and in the moment, every second of the show.
The direction of Coriolanus was beautiful. Karin Coonrod's understanding of the text was prominently displayed in her direction of the play. Her use of "less is more"Â was great. Scenes were differentiated by moving metal tables and chairs around the stage. It sounds really simple, but it's amazing how different a stage can look with a little change of furniture.
Granted none of this would have been possible without an amazing lighting designer. Scott Zielinski's lighting design was breathtaking. He complimented Coonrod's direction beautifully adding just the right the
touch that made this production astounding.
Go and see Theatre for a New Audience's production of Coriolanus. I promise you that it will be worth every penny.
Overall Grade: A-