Intermingling war veterans and theater professionals, director Stephan Wolfert has pared Shakespeare’s epic about the Roman warrior Caius Marcius (later dubbed Coriolanus) down to a comparatively lean two hours (with intermission) and fiddled with a bit of the plotting — most noticeably, the demise of the arrogant hero. He holds his own people (who haven’t served in the military) in open contempt. After many triumphant returns from battles to a starving populace, and at the urging of his mother, Volumnia (Adeye Sahran), Coriolanus (Daniel Kucan) runs for election as a Roman consul. Echoes of our own politics bounce around the stage as discussions of military experience hang in the air. Ultimately, they just ask the big guy to be polite to the commoners, which he can’t endure. Anticipating countless social revolutions to come, Shakespeare has the enraged consular officials ban their own war hero in the name of the people. Understandably, Coriolanus joins the enemy Volscians and leads the foreign army against his own “ungrateful” homeland. After Coriolanus’ mother successfully pleads with him to spare Rome, Shakespeare has the Volscians kill Coriolanus; but here, he falls on his own sword — not unlike Sophocles’ Ajax, who also became deranged from combat, pride and the urgings of a woman (the goddess Athena). In an outdoor park setting, Wolfert directs the play on three stages, with terrific amplification, enunciation, atmosphere and sense. The acting has more posturing than layering, so that it vaguely resembles a Tom Cruise flick. (Kucan bears some resemblance to the movie star.) Nice performances, however, by Michael Allen as Roman senator Menenius, Bruce Cervi as Volscian General Aufidius, and Sahran as Coriolanus’ tormented mother.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 4 p.m. Starts: Aug. 8. Continues through Sept. 6, 2008
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