“Coriolanus,” the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s 17th annual Free Shakespeare on the Common, is one of its finest to date.
Though rife with comparisons to the contemporary political climate, leave your analysis at home and just get swept up in the drama and action on the Boston Common. Director Steve Maler makes this huge performance space feel like an intimate setting to watch the nail-biting drama unfold.
Emotions run wild and fear and uncertainty are almost palpable as this stellar ensemble reels you in and refuses to let you off the hook until all the blood has been shed. Disenfranchised elitists, downtrodden rabble-rousers, angry mobs and political leaders unable to hide their contempt for the common man do battle in one of the Bard’s least produced but most intriguing tragedies.
Coriolanus is borderline loathsome and yet his only crime is his inability to hide his true feelings for the sake of political gain. Stubborn, short-tempered and arrogantly uncompromising, he only seems to bow before his power-mad mother Volumnia.
With the exception of a fight scene that would be more at home on “Dancing With the Stars,” Nicholas Carriere delivers a stellar turn as Coriolanus.
Karen MacDonald delivers another brilliant turn as Volumnia, while Fred Sullivan Jr. is perfection as Menenius. Jacqui Parker and Remo Airaldi also give impressive performances as Sicinius and Brutus respectively.
Apparently at this particular performance the City of Boston was doing some drilling in the street. Most of the audience was so riveted they didn’t even notice.
If you go
After a brilliant turn at battle, Caius Martius is renamed Coriolanus and encouraged to run for Senate. Unwilling to engage in the hand-shaking, baby-kissing, co-mingling with the commoners required of politicians, the noble war hero is banished from Rome and ends up face-to-face with his worst enemy, Tullus Aufidius.