Imagine your icon braiding your hair.
I used to have waist-length hair, and this is the first time ever that one of these has made sense and yet hasn’t been sad at first glance, and I refuse to think about it until it gets sad, because Whishaw’s Richard braiding my erstwhile hair is just a lovely thought.
Also I never do modern AU or kidfic but comments in the livestream about Volumnia’s parenting tactics make me want modern AU kidfic with bb!Martius and Titus Lartius learning such heart-warming lessons as Yes Steal The Other Children’s Toys and Rule, My Son and Sharing Leads To A Time Out Because Only Losers Share
This would be glorious.
The end of Coriolanus is kind of difficult to process, and the Donmar production doesn’t make it any easier. I typed this up last night for someone, but figured why the heck not publish it? So here, as best as I can understand and describe it (it’s not easy to do either), is how that final scene in the Donmar Coriolanus hits me.
So first of all we have Hiddleston, who doesn’t really do anything for me other than impress me with his acting abilities, but if you have even the vaguest shred of a Hiddleston situation everything that follows will be amplified hundredfold.
Then, and perhaps most importantly, we have Shakespeare’s text, and we have Aufidius. Aufidius is quite something, and I’m not sure the right adjectives even exist in English. Aufidius is more or less in love with Coriolanus, but love is entirely the wrong word. You know that sex/death equation the Elizabethans keep bringing up in their poetry? Well, it’s a violent version of that. the sex/death thing is usually very quiet and peaceful, but Aufidius takes it and makes it noisy and exuberant and bloody and lusty (in every sense of the word). It’s foe yay, but it’s not a kind of foe yay I’ve seen anywhere else.
Then the particular Aufidius in the Donmar production takes all the blood and lust and sexualised violence (or violencified sexuality?) that exists in the text, and amplifies it as much as possible.
Thing is, Coriolanus is pretty keen on having Aufidius for a nemesis, and he seems to have a crush on him, too, but he doesn’t go in for the lust/violence/death/sex thing that Aufidius does. In fact, I don’t think he even knows that Aufidius does.
There’s bit with the knife when Coriolanus first shows up at Aufidius door. Coriolanus positively expects Aufidius to kill him, and he kneels there and freezes up like a rabbit trying to hide from a wolf (I touched on that in this post here)
So anyway, the dynamic between the characters is bizarre and not anything that has analogues in any other works I can think of, and this particular production takes that dynamic and does as much with it as it can.
So the play carries on and the plot happens and all, and then I don’t really know what gets into Aufidius, but I don’t think he really draws a distinction between sex and death, and maybe he gets genre savvy and realises that the plot demands blood. But anyway, Coriolanus’ death at the end seems almost sacrificial on Aufidius’ part. And the way it was staged in the Donmar production, well, some folks like the kind of stuff.
So far it’s all been blood and sex and death and Aufidius’ really weird mind, but now it gets inexplicable.
The sex/death thing can get mixed up with religion. Sex, death, and religion are all gigantic and important concepts to humans, and when you throw all three together at once, things get really weird (in the context of St. Sebastian and Richard II, it was discussed here.)
So the concept of a sacrifice is what happens when the religious notions and the death notions intersect in a certain way, and I get pretty heavy sacrifice notions from that final scene in Coriolanus.
So we have, in varying degrees depending on the tastes of the audience, The death/sex thing, Hiddleston’s [arguable] good looks, Aufidius’ weird and complex violent lust thing, and sacrifice.
And Aufidius’ little blood shower at the very end there, that’s very Roman and very sacrificial. I’m sure Shakespeare would approve.
And that’s a really difficult thing to process, but I think in the end I really like it.
Ok, I have far more thoughts than just this, but this is a basic summation of how I read that final scene. Some day I’ll write up my entire interpretation of Aufidius and Coriolanus, but that invoves typing about sexuality in some detail and I’m not very good at that. Anyway, blood, death, violence, stabby stabbiness, and everyone in this play who isn’t named Virgilia is completely bonkers.
Coriolanus starts in seven minutes.
And we’re hitting “play” just about now. Come get your fill of blood-drenched shouty Shakespeare!
Coriolanus starts in seven minutes.
somebody recommend me some good folk bands/singers i need some more folk in my life????
The Chieftains, John Fleagle, Old Blind Dogs, The Broadside Band, Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention, Heather Alexander (his later stuff is published as Alexander James Adams, but…
Great Big Sea! That is all I have to add
Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit and Laura Marling.
OH! And Kate Rusby! She’s fantastic!
Fun fact: Heather is a girl’s name and where I grew up it was fairly common, and so I have been assuming Heather Alexander was a girl, which led to my being certain he was either Leslie Fish or Kate Rusby until today.
Heather is a girl’s name. Alexander is transgender and he published stuff under his girl name before he transitioned and his voice dropped an octave. Look him up under both names, he’s got a great voice. Or two great voices, really.
Yeah. It’s more than enough to say “talented actor cast in new drama.” Representation matters, but “the gay with the gay on the gay” is a bit overkill as a headline.
There’s representation, and then there’s using something as an advertising point.
They have a leader, Tullus Aufidius, that will put you to ‘t. I sin in envying his nobility, And were I any thing but what I am, I would wish me only he.
If you guys needed a reason to watch my livestream (the stream is live now, and the play starts in about half an hour), here is a reason.