• Why has “Coriolanus” never been popular? It’s been mounted on Broadway only once—in 1938. The last time that I reviewed a production in this space was eight years ago. Yet connoisseurs need no reminding of the immense stature of Shakespeare’s most explicitly political play. T.S. Eliot ranked “Coriolanus” above “Hamlet,” calling it “Shakespeare’s most assured artistic success.” A man I know who used to work for one of America’s best-known politicians claims that it’s one of only two pieces of literary art that tells the whole truth about politics (the other, he says, is “All the King’s Men”). And if you should be lucky enough to see Shakespeare Theatre Company’s new production, directed by David Muse and featuring a towering performance by Patrick Page, you’ll come away wondering why it doesn’t get done regularly by every drama company in America.
    • Enter Coriolanus (Mr. Page), a paragon of the military virtues who more or less single-handedly defeats the enemy. Physically fearless and noble without limit, he has only one flaw: He knows that he is a great man, and refuses to pretend otherwise. Indifferent to the praise of “the common people,” he will not “flatter them for their love,”
    • He understands that “Coriolanus” is not about any particular politician, or any particular war: Its real subject is pride. Is there room in a democracy for an aristocrat like Coriolanus who refuses to play the popularity game? Or is it his duty to don the hypocrite’s mask in order to serve the greater good?
    • You’ll be paralyzed by the hideous, red-faced howl of horror that he wrenches from his depths when his terrified mother (Diane d’Aquila) begs him not to renounce his family and his country.

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