Monday, 3 February 2014


Gate Cinema / Donmar Warehouse
Thursday, 30 January 2014

Director: Josie Rourke
Talent: Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss, Deborah Findlay

Present: WW, NM. RM & Caitlin Line

Tom Hiddleston is an electric stage presence.  This is not merely because he is a strikingly beautiful man, but also because he has grace of movement and note-perfect timing.  He speaks clearly and without affectation. There were times when, even in the cinema, I could not hear what he was saying, but I daresay this was due more to my deficient ears than his I daresay perfectly modulated voice.  Was so perfect a creature plausible as Coriolanus?  While the character is supposed to be some kind of superhero warrior, I'd rather like to see a more nuggety, less sympathetic lead.  It is hard to dislike Hiddleston. Ralph Fiennes almost pulled it off, but perhaps he too was too sympathetic.  Then again, part of the genius of the play is to make this disdainful, contemptuous, vengeful man somehow understandable.  So who knows.

Mark Gatiss brought a note of lightness to what is otherwise a dark play, strolling about the stage with a languid, Mycroftian ease of possessiveness, but Deborah Findlay, for those of us who have seen the astonishing performance by Vanessa Redgrave in the Fiennes film, did not really evince the kind of ruthlessness that Shakespeare gives the character.  Volumnia is monstrous, as powerful as Lady Macbeth.

So: live theatre on film?  The oddest moment was at the end when the audience found itself in a quandary: to clap or not to clap?  The last time I was in a cinema when the audience applauded (vigorously and with very good cheer) was after a showing of The Thin Man just round the corner from Harvard Square, on New Year's Eve (actually it is almost impossible not to respond, so brilliant is the last scene).  Here there was a smattering.  This will have to be worked out through the years.

What film deprives you of is sweat and spit and stage blood and the whole visceral experience of theatre.  In recompense, cinema seats are comfortable, and one has a sense of being liberated from the chains of piety: too often at the theatre one is oppressed by the dictate for best behaviour.

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