Walking into WAAPA’s Roundhouse Theatre was akin to stepping into the launch of Yeezy Season 3. I was immediately met with an array of monochromatic clothing and a lead character wrestling with his social value. Sadly, there was not a Kardashian in sight, but the spirit of Kanye West was well and truly alive in this production.
Coriolanus, Shakespeare’s final tragedy, has been the recipient of countless adaptations. Of particular note is the National Theatre’s widely acclaimed modern production featuring Tom Hiddleston, and WAAPA’s performance clearly benefited from the influence of that work. The use of nearly identical rusted ladders as a stage tool was either a subtle nod to the production, or a shameless replica.
Yet there was never any doubt that this adaptation was going to stand on its own feet. The energetic opening scene saw a group of commoners rush to the stage desperate for food, which Malcolm Turnbull would refer to as a ‘campaign event.’ From that point on the pace of the performance continued to intensify, and the minimalist costumes and gorgeously barren set only heightened this.
The play was dominated by the anchoring leads of Coriolanus and the manipulative Menenius (Kieran Clancy-Lowe). Even as Coriolanus rose to military glory, his eventual downfall was foreshadowed by an animated performance from Clancy-Lowe. Coriolanus (Angus McLaren) himself looked like a character straight from Summer Bay. Fortunately, his performance was of far greater quality than its usual residents.
For better or worse it would not be a Shakespearean tragedy without a scheming matriarch behind the scenes. Volumnia, played brilliantly by Anneliese Apps, ensured we were not disappointed. She not only commanded both Coriolanus’ wife and child but also ruled his judgement. The parallels to Kris Jenner’s engineering of the Kardashian empire were eerie.
At times, a very pronounced Australian twang in characters’ speech did prove irritating. However, it was quite entertaining to hear Shakespeare’s prose get the ‘ocker’ treatment it never deserved. If you enjoy Shakespeare, or just the smugness of telling people you attend the theatre, please run along to Coriolanus. Like followers of Kanye West’s twitter feed, you will not be disappointed.
Review by Tom Durkin
Coriolanus runs until March 17 at WAAPA’s Roundhouse Theatre. Tickets available here.