Sunday, 13 March 2016
A Pinoy @ The Theater: Tom Hiddleston in Shakespeare's CORIOLANUS
(Giant Benedict Cumberbatch and
Tom Hiddleston's posters at the
National Theater of Korea entrance)
Last month, as my bus was passing by the National Theater of Korea in Seoul, a huge poster caught my eye. The two men in the poster looked familiar!
It was Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston! Benedict Cumberbatch was Sherlock Holmes on TV's Sherlock and was brilliant as Alan Turing on Imitation Game, while Tom Hiddleston was, well, bossy as Loki of Asgard in The Avengers. From my bus window, I took a photo of the poster to see what it was all about. Because with two big names and recognizable faces on the huge posters, who wouldn't want to pass up the chance to see them?
The poster was for the performances of Coriolanus and Hamlet for the National Theater Live, or NTLive, which is a filmed live performance at a London stage and shown at other theaters around the world. And this time, in Seoul, NTLive was showing Shakespeare's Coriolanus and Hamlet!
When I got home that day, I immediately logged on to the website of the National Theater of Korea and just got lucky that, over the play dates, there were a few seats left for Coriolanus and one, yes, one-unexplainable-mysteriously-available-seat for Hamlet! Whew! Of course, I bought the available seats immediately! It's Shakespeare!
And on the play date for Coriolanus, the main theater was packed!
Coriolanus is a tragedy, and I didn't expect Tom to show up as a god from Asgard complete with horns and cape. Here, Tom Hiddleston was a successful Roman general and was spilling out Shakespeare's words like they were meant to be his. Since NTLive had close-ups, Tom's intensity was magnified all over the big screen. His words and emotions jumped out of the screen and reached even those sitting at the farthest corner of the theater (perhaps they also bought their tickets late!). Tom, as an angry Coriolanus, still pierced them on their seats with his emotions as if they were sitting up front. I even told myself, I liked this NTLive! I didn't have to fly to London to watch Shakespeare! Ha-ha-ha!
A familiar face in the cast caught my attention: Alfred Enoch, who played a student at Viola Davis's How To Get Away With Murder drama series. I didn't know he was English. I thought he was an African-American who happened to attend Viola Davis's law class at a Philadelphia university and later got involved in a murder plot in that drama. Here, in Coriolanus, Alfred plays Titus Lartius, another Roman general.
(Brochures for Hamlet and Coriolanus)
Although Tom Hiddleston plays the main character, his mom, Volumnia, played by Deborah Findlay matched his performance word-for-word. Miss Findlay stole the scene from Tom a few times, and for a very good reason: she was very good! And in each of her scene, she made sure the audience knew who she was: an ambitious mother to Coriolanus and a very good stage actress.
After the play, I realized I was lucky to have looked out the window that day and spotted the poster, or I wouldn't have had the opportunity to experience and enjoy NTLive's Coriolanus.
(My tickets for NTLive performances)
I started reading Shakespeare at 12 during my grade school years. Our English teacher, Miss Maroma, would read with us the plays during class and made us understand those centuries-old Shakespearian words. But that night, among the audience made up of Koreans and a few foreigners, I watched and enjoyed not just another Shakespeare work, but performances and a production of the highest quality even William Shakespeare would have been proud of.
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Next play, Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet!