Well, first of all, my most initial thought is a personal one: Happy Birthday to my wife of 25 years, Lisa–my most favorite person with whom to see and share Shakespeare.
But really, this is supposed to be about my initial thoughts on Coriolanus.
So here goes…
Coriolanus. I’ve never seen this on stage. I’ve seen the Ralph Fiennes film…and it was pretty damned good (more on that later in the week), but there’s a strangeness to the play–with its not exactly likable hero. I can see why it’s not performed frequently; it would be hard to market that guy. Then you’ve got a kind of tripartite antagonist in the people, the tribunes, and Aufidius. And a weird mix of military and politics, possible psychoanalytic and Marxist (and heck, even Feminist) readings. Its weirdness hearkens back to Troilus and Cressida (and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing).
On the flip-side, there’s much in the play to like: from a purely literary perspective, there’s a great many neat call-backs to earlier plays; its structure is interesting in that we don’t just build to a battle at the end–the more full-fledged military scenes come in the first half of the play; its political critique (maybe one could go as far as using the word “satire”) is crisp.
And then there’s Volumnia. We finally get a Shakespearean mother. And what a mother she is.
So after this first read, I’m fascinated. Fascinated, but pretty ambivalent: I’m not sure I LIKE it, but I do know I can’t wait for a deeper dive.