Bereft that Tom Hiddleston's Loki won't be in next summer's The Avengers: Age of Ultron? Never fear. The charismatic villain who survived three Marvel flicks has taken off the cape and horned helmet and jetted back to London to star in Shakespeare's Coriolanius, the tragedy of a egomaniacal general–turned–senatorial candidate tricked into admitting he thinks the masses are morons. Banished by his homeland, the vengeful hero invites his enemies to help burn his city to the ground. (Sound familiar, Thor fans?)
The British press has been raving about Hiddleston's performance — the Daily Telegraph called him a "compelling and persuasive ... lean, mean killing machine" — which shouldn't surprise anyone who contributed to The Avengers' global $1.56 billion haul. It definitely won't surprise Thor director Kenneth Branagh, who fell for the actor after seeing him in Othello alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor. Together, they conceived of Loki as one part Macbeth, one part Iago. And not only did Hiddleston bring a Shakespearean grandeur to a popcorn blockbuster, he proved he could command an audience when he strode onstage in costume at San Diego Comic-Con and ordered the 7,000 people in Hall H to kneel. Did they? Of course.
But there's no need to catch a flight to England. On Jan. 30, Hiddleston returns to theaters for one day only when the National Theatre Live beams that day's performance live to 300 cinemas, including L.A.'s Downtown Independent. (Other local theaters will screen it on various dates — more info at ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk).
If you can't hear over the squeals when Coriolanus strips off his bloody shirt and showers onstage, here's a summary of the play to help follow along: Coriolanus win, Coriolanus get punked, Coriolanus smash.
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NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE: CORIOLANUS | Downtown Independent | Jan. 30 | downtownindependent.com