ELLE reviews Coriolanus

Starring Tom Hiddleston

Tom Hiddleston's return to Shakespeare in Josie Rourke's Coriolanus at London's Donmar Warehouse is as violent, hungry and driven as the eponymous hero of the work. (You can check out the man himself describing the character here).

Fans of Hiddleston, who are most used to seeing him playing feckless, intellectually driven boys, will enjoy the much more physical aspect to his torment in this role… Coriolanus is, after all, a trained killer with no emotional or social filter to equip him to political life off the battlefield. Yes, Hiddleston wears leather body armour and showers shirtless on stage (a scene that is more layered in pain than eroticism) but it is his brutal, bloody, raging fury – in the face of his betrayal by the people of Rome – that really creates the corporeal impact.

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As much as this is Hiddleston's vehicle, his is just one among several outstanding performances. Hadley Fraser – a former dancer best known for musical theatre – is magnificent as Coriolanus' sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius; you won't forget the scene when they are entwined on stage, with Aufidius declaiming: 'I have nightly since dreamt of encounters twixt thyself and me/We have been down together in my sleep/Unbuckling helms, fisting each other's throat/And waked half dead with nothing.' A sentiment many Hiddlestoners will share.

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Mark Gattis is both slick and sinister as political animal Menenius, Borgen star Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, playing Coriolanus' wife Virgilia, has little to say in words but says it all through the expression on her beautiful face, and Deborah Findlay, as Coriolanus ambitious mother Volumnia is revelatory. A special mention must be made of the costumes, which are colloquial, disturbingly sexy and yet appropriate. Think All Saints does Gladiator.

Coriolanus is Shakespeare's most under-rated play, and yet one of his most relevant to the world we live in today. The opportunity to see production like this is worth pursuing... you can try to get last minute tickets released on Monday mornings here. Or, if you haven't yet booked yourself in for the NTL screening, do so now .

Tom Hiddleston, the poet

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