James Corrigan as Tullus Aufidius and Sope Dirisu as Coriolanus. Pictures Helen Maybanks


The Royal Shakespeare Company



As part of the RSC’s Roman season, director Angus Jackson’s production of Coriolanus shows an emotional view of what it means to be in a position of power and how much we are driven by personal ego.

Caius Martius has headed his army against the Volscians. Upon his return, he has been given the name Coriolanus to mark his exceptional leadership.

Coriolanus, however, has contempt for the people and the Roman citizens reciprocate his dislike despising his unrelenting ego, driving him out of Rome. So Coriolanus seeks his once enemy Tullus Aufidius to conspire with hime against Rome.

With Jackson’s concept that shows the darkness of political power, it is a play that highlights how easy our personal morals can be pushed aside for personal advancement.

Coriolanus is an interesting choice given the current political climate in which we see Britain today. Much like this production, it seems that politicians today also have an underlying personal agenda, which only suits themselves.

Coriolanus is completely self-centred in this production and the citizens of Rome can certainly see this. In today’s climate, it seems that more and more people are unsure who to trust in their political choosing and the citizens of Rome in this play feel unrepresented by Coriolanus’ unshakeable ego.

Ambition is the theme that rings true throughout the production and it is a timeless relatable trait for many people

martina and jackie

Martina Laird as Junius Brutus and Jackie Morrison as Sicinius Veletus

Of course, there are many varieties of ambition and this production seeks to find it on a human level. The power struggle between Coriolanus and Tullus Aufidius is interesting to see, heightened by the great technique from both actors. Much like today, their ambition as politicians is driven by selfish intentions. The citizens of Rome only want their voices to be heard and it is difficult for their needs to reach the ears of someone driven by their personal wants.

Coriolanus and Tullus Aufidius’ relationship is the most engaging concept within the play. James Corrigan as Tullus gives an entertaining portrayal of another ego driven character. Coriolanus may be his rival but they are both as self-centred as each other.

Corrigan is like a boxer hungry to fight and constantly shows the unshaking ego of a fighter too. He is cheeky with a sinister touch, giving an untouchable quality to the ambitious rivalry.

Sope Dirisu as Coriolanus is the perfect choice for the role. His acting is fantastic and he is the central force within this interesting performance. The production sees Coriolanus on a life affecting journey, firstly as Caus Martius and then into the despised Coriolanus. He leads with a great strength but it is also wonderful to see tender and loving moments between Coriolanus and his mother. Dirisu makes fight scenes look effortless and his egotistical demeanour is prevalent throughout.

The women are a solid rock throughout and Haydn Gwynne gives a terrific performance as Coriolanus’ mother, Volumnia. With deeply enthralling speeches and a strong presence throughout, she has the power to ultimately bring Coriolanus back to his roots, to remind him of the people he represents. It is also a great choice to see Martina Laird as Junius Brutus and Jackie Morrison as Sicinius Veletus, who are both the voices of the Roman citizens. They make a great pair and are a powerful concept against Coriolanus’ manly authority.

It is a production heavily involved with dialogue, which felt as if some scenes were repetitions of themselves. However, Jackson shows an interesting concept that fits perfectly into the social and political worlds we see around us today. To 14-10-17.

Elizabeth Halpin


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