The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0272 Tuesday, 8 February 2000.
Date: Tuesday, 8 Feb 2000 00:50:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject: DC Coriolanus
I, too, saw Coriolanus at the DC Shakespeare Theater this weekend. I
found it one of their best plays of late, and certainly very clearly
The performances were, on the whole, excellent. Particularly Andrew
Long in the title role, and Keith Hamilton Cobb as Aufidius. The "usual
suspects" from theater (Floyd King, Ted van Griethuysen, David Sabin, et
al.) were all up to the high standards I've come to expect from them,
though did not stray far from their usualy character types.
The production design was a great asset to the play. The use of facist
vs. communist imagery was a bold and simplifying choice. It made
manifest the battle lines in this interpretation of the play.
Especially at the top of the play, the language is very dense and hard
for the unitiated to follow. The use of these strong symbols gave the
audiance the visual anchor they needed to hang on until they gleened
what was going on. I did not see the 1991 production, but I wonder if
it was as clear?
I want to raise one point in particular that interested me while
watching the show. The first combat between Coriolanus and Aufidius is
one of the more convincing combats I've ever seen at this theater. On
the other hand, the final stabbing of Coriloanus was not particularly
effective. In general, stage combat does not seem to be this theater's
strongest suit. Is anyone else of this opinion? That the fights are
less convincing than they should be, almost as a rule?
I wonder if this is just my taste differing from that of the artistic
director. But I do think that the timing is usually off in the fights;
they aren't necessarily too slow, but they are just a little to clearly
performing dance moves. Are convincing fights not a prerequisite in
Shakespeare? I would think that, for example, the final battle between
Edmund and Edgar rilies heavily on excellent stage combat.
-- Harry Teplitz