Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog’s Peter Sterne reports from Lerner Black Box.
Last night, Kings Crown Shakespeare Troupe presented a slightly modernized version of Coriolanus, one of Shakespeare’s least-performed plays. The audience was immersed in the play’s action from the very beginning, when a fight broke out in the ticket holders’ line. Although this Bwogger initially assumed it involved frustrated students who hadn’t been able to get tickets to the sold-out show, he soon realized it was a staged fight between plainclothes plebeians and Roman soldiers.
The costumes were also modernized, as the Roman senators ditched the traditional togas for dark suits, making them resemble nothing so much as our own politicians as they swindled the common people (dressed in modern casual clothes) and debated how to run the state amongst themselves.
Zack Sheppard, as the brilliant but elitist general Caius Marcius Coriolanus, delivered a subtly emotional performance that emphasized how reluctant Coriolanus was to be honored by Rome’s senators—particularly the regal consul and general Cominius, played by Joseph Rozenshtein. Sheppard had great chemistry with Alex Brinkman-Young, who played his devoted wife Virgilia, and their few scenes together served to humanize his character.
Last night’s performance was dominated by Elizabeth Power, as Coriolanus’s ambitious and sadistic mother Volumnia. Power delivered her lines slowly and eloquently, even during long speeches, and her tone provided a glimpse into Volumnia’s madness and obsession with power and honor at any cost.
Most of the play revolves around political intrigue in Rome, and here the actors did not disappoint. Adam May made a great Menenius Agrippa, easily persuading plebeians and audience alike with his silky-smooth delivery. Toward the end of the play, once Menenius’s rhetoric had failed and he had to resort to shouting, May delivered sharp, angry speeches that shook the audience. The targets of his wrath were the tribunes Velutus and Brutus, played by Andrew Edwards and Kaitlin Kaufman, respectively. Edwards’s booming voice and measured speaking style, combined with Kaufman’s acerbic tone, made these two the perfect team of demagogic and sleazy politicians capable of manipulating the common people.
The play’s themes of power was suggested by the song played at the conclusion of the final act—the only song in the play. While Shakespeare’s script calls for a “funeral march,” director Thomas Kapusta instead opted for Kanye West’s “Power.” Was the song only used because of the title? Not according to assistant director Brian LaPerche, who insists that “Kanye West is very similar to Coriolanus. They’re both very talented at what they do, but sometimes they go too far and say the wrong thing.”
The final performance of KCST’s Coriolanus will be tonight at 8 pm in the Austin E. Quigley black box theater on Lerner 5. The performance is sold-out, but standby seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.