Derelian Reigns as `Coriolanus’
By Aram Kouyoumdjian on Aug 7th, 2009
Truth be told, Shakespeare’s script for the historical tragedy
`Coriolanus’ does not qualify among his best; in fact, the plodding
text often makes for drab reading and perhaps explains why the play is
None of that stops director Darko Tresnjak from delivering a visually
and emotionally rich production of the play at San Diego’s Old Globe
Theatre, where it runs in repertory through September 25. What powers
the intensely paced, action-packed spectacle is Greg Derelian’s
kinetic performance as the title character.
Derelian is a veteran Shakespearean, having performed in such
historical plays and tragedies as `Antony and Cleopatra,’ `Henry V,’
`Julius Caesar,’ `Macbeth,’ and `Othello,’ and comedies including `As
You Like It’ and `The Taming of the Shrew.’ He does double duty at
the Old Globe, playing Antonio in `Twelfth Night’ as well.
In `Coriolanus,’ Derelian portrays the Roman general of that name,
who, at the play’s outset, defeats the Volscians and their leader,
Tullus Aufidius. After his victory, Coriolanus expects to be anointed
consul, but in order to attain that office, he must first earn the
blessing of Rome’s plebeians, whom he disdains.
Initially, the plebeians throw their support behind Coriolanus, but
when the general is unable to hide his contempt for them, he suffers
their wrath and is ultimately banished from Rome. Enraged, he turns
against the city and joins forces with Aufidius, his former enemy, in
order to attack it.
Treachery and treason serve as running themes in `Coriolanus,’ which
ultimately revolves around power – and the machinations of its
pursuit. While the play decries its hero as arrogant and his handlers
– the patricians – as scheming, it proves equally unforgiving of the
fickle and easily manipulated plebeians.
Having trimmed extraneous dialogue from the script, Tresnjak directs
with cinematic flair, intercutting and juxtaposing scenes, and
arriving at a revisionist – but altogether inspired – closing tableau
that capitalizes on Coriolanus’ complicated relationship with his
mother Volumnia, who cuts a grand and imposing figure.
The production’s sole misstep is casting an all-too-young Celeste
Ciulla in that maternal role and having Derelian act petulant around
her. Fortunately, such moments are few, and Derelian’s performance is
quite adult – highly physicalized and brutish, yet equally poignant
`Coriolanus’ marks Derelian’s debut at the Old Globe and will
hopefully lead to an ongoing relationship between the actor and the
theater, ensuring that the New York-based thespian will be a regular
presence on a West Coast stage
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress