By now you will have read a few reviews of Coriolanus, a less frequently produced play of Shakespeare's but rating high this season in a production directed and designed (the set) by internationally famous French-Canadian Robert Lepage, with Ex Machina, a multi-discipline company under his artistic direction. I haven't read the comments but I have a feeling that more people will resist the staging than will accept it, let alone welcome it with open minds. Well, open your minds.
Coriolanus was never one of Shakespeare's top ten. It's a political thriller, written in prose, not poetry, and its protagonist, Martius, a courageous soldier, is unpopular. The only person who seems to like him and to whom he pays attention is his mother, Volumnia. For defeating the Volsces and capturing their city, Corioles, he is given the honorific Coriiolanus and encouraged by (a few) friends and his mother to run for consul. He is arrogant and stubborn and he alienates the common people as well as two tribunes of the people who conspire against him. Though labeled a tragedy, the play has no tragic hero, just a brave, uncompromising guy with no political smarts.
Lepage has created a cinematic production, with moving screens opening on scenes and sets, and mostly minimal sets, the major exception being two side-by - side-offices where the political contest is established by mass and social media. Yet Rome is never lost in the presentation: ancient art and objects and (decaying) murals strongly suggest the past that no longer exists. I found the whole thing utterly believable and effective.
The only fault I had to find was with the audience. An interesting scene set up between two sentries at separate posts who communicate by texting (with the information projected on a screen for the audience to see) was spoiled by the viewers who found it too amusing. These people must have escaped from the Rocky Horror Show audience, adding inappropriate noise and huzzahs (?) at the end.
i have read the entire canon twice (a Renaissance course and a Shakespeare course) and I have seen every one of Shakespeare's plays at least twice, and more. I have seen Corioianus three times now and this one was the most believable and powerful. I am so grateful.