Thursday, April 02, 2009

"Coriolanus" at the Somerville Armory

At last an Actor's Shakespeare Project production I can wholeheartedly gimmicks, no caberet casting, just good solid acting top to bottom Benjamin Evett scintillates as the title character a bloodthirsty mama's boy general exiled from Rome who turns on his former patrons til mother dearest (a top notch Bobbie Steinbach) talks him out of it with tragic consequences.
All in all I have no complaints save the fact that the initial hand to hand combat between Coriolanus and his mortal enemy and future "ally" the he Voscis General Aufidius is reduced to a somewhat childish noise-making contest enacted in a cage that sildes around the stage on rollers.
But it's a strong performance-centric show...Coriolanus isn't a very sympathetic character, he berates the Roman commoners like they were farm animals and refuses to put any of his virtues in their service leaving them prey to the manipulations of the cynical tribunes.
And when push comes to shove, who does he defer to, his loudmouthed mother who pleas for mercy are only eloquent enough to get Coriolanus killed.
Y' know I don't think Shakespeare liked his Romans, Caesar is a tyrannical stiff, Titus Andronicus is self satisfied jerk, Marc Antony is self destructive and Coriolanus...well he is fatally immature sez I.
One suspects, Shakespeare was trying to warn his own era about the perils of imperial politics...I just don't think the Bard thought much of the Roman overclass.