Pearson and Brookes have garnered great acclaim with their production of Aeschylus’s The Persians in National Theatre Wales’ inaugral season. For Coriolan/us, commissioned for the World Shakespeare Festival, the directors have managed another atmospheric creation splicing Shakespeare’s tragedy with material from Brecht’s 1950s adaptation Coriolan. The promenade action happens in a technologically switched-on Rome. The narrative of Caius Martius Coriolanus links several conflicts - from the personal to the political - whether between the Roman republic and the neighbouring state of Volsces or Coriolanus and his fiercly ambitious matriarch Volumnia.
The ominous beat of John Hardy’s dramatic composition pulses through headphones as we are ushered into the hanger. A white minibus follows us in and the doors close on the outside world, plunging us into the midst of the action as two rebels wielding bats plough through the crowd, camera crews following their moves, and streaming the action onto two giant screens. In the vast performance space, reminiscent of the ominious occurances in the hanger of Tom McCarty’s novel Remainder, the cast kettles audiences alongside moving vehicles or static caravans as sacrifices are made, fights are fought and loyalties are broken.
A menacing, unsettling Coriolanus (Richard Lynch), is allowed precious little time to reflect on changing events, as all eyes, real and digital follow him in and out of the action. The play demands lengthy concentration from a milling audience on a minimal set - however, bold technical proficiancy and strong, immersive performances hold up under overt and covert scrutiny. Lynch, Morgan and Harrington engross throughout.