Brush Up Your Shakespeare At Barbican This Winter

Coriolanus at Barbican Theatre ★★★★☆

Brush Up Your Shakespeare At Barbican This Winter Coriolanus at Barbican Theatre 4
Photo by Helen Maybanks (c) RSC

These days it may seem like a cliché to stage Shakespeare in modern dress, but this production of Coriolanus has a particular reason for doing so. This is because the play, the first of four the Royal Shakespeare Company is bringing to the Barbican this winter, is about a general who serves Rome well militarily, but has no capacity for flattering others.

Without describing any single political event, Angus Jackson's production strongly alludes to modern day populism. It highlights the way in which other far more self-serving politicians exploit Coriolanus' weakness to claim that he holds the masses in contempt, and that they are the people's true saviours. In the process, one can genuinely feel the fragility of the society, and the way in which divisions, once created, are virtually impossible to heal.

Photo by Helen Maybanks (c) RSC

Beyond making the piece feel so relevant the staging sometimes lacks innovation, but it allows the words to shine through in order to inform and move us. Sope Dirisu as Coriolanus and Haydn Gwynne as his mother deliver them particularly well.

Coriolanus, Barbican Theatre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS, £10-£75, 6-18 November 2017.

Last Updated 09 November 2017