Twice recently, I had the great good fortune to spend time with William Shakespeare. One was at The Rep’s hilarious production of “The Comedy of Errors.” The other was at a screening of the dark drama, “Coriolanus.”
Both, reimagined in current times, demonstrate the continuing relevance of this work. Both also celebrate the Bard’s glorious gift for language.
“Coriolanus” – set in a city calling itself Rome – is convincingly filmed as a war picture complete with automatic weapons. It is also a bona fide political thriller.
CNN-type broadcasts keep us abreast of things. Caius Martius Coriolanus (Ralph Fiennes, who also directs) is a scarred and brilliant general revered by the rulers, but mistrusted by the starving citizens. Urged by his mother (Vanessa Redgrave) to run for Consul, he refuses to pander to the people, and is banished from the city.
He then joins forces with his arch enemy, and foe of Rome, Tallus Aufidius (Gerard Butler), in a vengeful attack on the city.
Written over 400 years ago, “Coriolanus” is a tale for our times. Brilliantly acted, this pageant of pride, retaliation, and shifting loyalties demonstrates how little human nature has changed.