Theater Review: Coriolanus by Theatricum Botanicum

Last Saturday afternoon, I went into the hills of Topanga (midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley in lovely southern California) to Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum to catch their production of Coriolanus.

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Coriolanus flashback

Yeah, I know. Coriolanus was so…last month.

But when something comes onto the radar that is this fascinating–well, it’s time to put off that Act One synopsis of Cymbeline and share it with you, my band of Bard brothers…

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Podcast 152: Coriolanus — concept, cast, conclusion and wrap up


This week’s podcast concludes our two-month journey with Coriolanus. We’re going to discuss a directorial concept, a cast, a conclusion and a wrap-up…oh, and two–count ‘em two–shameless bits of self-promotion.

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Coriolanus: the wrap-up

So. Coriolanus.

It’s a strange play. Intense. Political. Intensely political. It’s a tragedy, there’s no way around it. But is Martius a tragic hero?

Now, way back when…just after we started this project, we read Titus Andronicus, and we kind of asked this very question of that play, as well.

I called that one a play of revenge, a horror show.

That was Shakespeare’s first tragedy, and this–Coriolanus–is the last.


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Coriolanus: the fly in the solo ointment

Remember how I’ve been going on and on about Martius’ one (ok, maybe technically two, really just one) soliloquy in Coriolanus? And remember how I said this says something about his anxiety when he’s around others and his calm alone? And remember how I’ve tied this to his homosociality with Aufidius?

Well, shoot. Damn, there’s another soliloquy.

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Coriolanus: a sword-pull at the point of no return

Using Professor Rodes’ midpoint theory, let’s take a look at Coriolanus.

There are 3323 lines in in the play, which means the midpoint is at line 1662, or at Act Three, Scene One, line 224. According to Dr. Rodes’ theory, you could find at this midpoint–or within twenty lines either way–a speech that perfectly sums up a major theme of the play (the 20-line leeway was to help remove the differences in prose line lengths between individual editions).

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Volumnia’s last word (economy-sized)

OK, last week, I looked at Martius’ big speech (and we’ve already taken a look at the homo-erotic response to it, the longest speech by Aufidius) from Coriolanus. Today, let’s take a look at the longest speech of the play, this one by dear ol’ mum, Volumnia. There’s some pretty interesting stuff going on in the scansion (as well as a stage direction or two).

It’s Act Five, Scene Three, in the Volscian camp on the outskirts of Rome, where Martius and Aufidius ready their armies for the attack. Martius has already turned away Menenius (who seemed like a father-figure to him), and Martius has admitted doing so “cracked” (V.iii.9) his heart.

So who should walk in at this moment?

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My name is Cauis Martius

If you’re looking for Martius’ most important speech in Coriolanus, it’s most likely the speech in which he reveals himself to his enemy Aufidius, and announces his intention to join forces with him. This speech, from Act Four, Scene Five, is certainly his longest.

So let’s take a look at it…

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Coriolanus: for the love of… wounds(?)

So, anybody else out there curious about the repetitious use of “wound” in Coriolanus? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?


I was struck by it. So much so that I dipped into — what’s my friend? That’s right… Continue reading “Coriolanus: for the love of… wounds(?)”