THE BLOG

Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse

05/01/2014 20:55 GMT | Updated 06/03/2014 10:59 GMT

I have two words to explain the delay in blog updates: third year.

The work load has pretty much been nonstop since September, and I'm actually writing this to avoid doing other writing I have to do. My 20 things bucket list has taken somewhat of a setback this term.

But I have managed to tick one more thing ticked off: a visit to the theatre. I had written this one as I used to go to the theatre quite often when studying drama at GCSE and A level, and I missed going. I was expecting to go to the Crucible in Sheffield to see a local production of sorts, but thanks to my housemate and the Barclays' Front Row scheme - my theatre experience was pretty spectacular.

sold out in minutes

The Barclays Front Row Scheme was designed to make the theatre accessible to more people. At the Donmar Warehouse two thirds of front row seats in the stalls and circles were sold for ten pounds. They went on sale every Monday at 10am, and sold out within minutes. I mean literally one or two minutes. The first time we tried to get them, my housemate and I were sat starring at our laptop screens in complete disarray at what had just had happened to us. The next time was closer, but the third time proved the charm. There may have been a little bit of squealing involved.

We spent the day in London, and despite the giddy excitement I felt for most of the day (probably not helped by how little sleep I'd had) there was a surreal moment just before the play where the two of us were in a cocktail bar, in black dresses, just about to see a Shakespeare play - it struck me how sophisticated the whole thing was; squealing and excitement aside.

how close we would be

It was 7 o'clock when we collected our tickets and entered the theatre. Now I knew the Domnar was small, and seated 250 people. I knew we had front row tickets on the stalls, but I was not ready for how close we would be to the stage. My feet could literally rest on it. In fact, while watching the play I genuinely worried I would trip the actors up if I crossed my legs and rearranged my feet.

My friend asked me if I would write this as a review, but I wanted it to be more so about my experience of the theatre. But I may as well say here that this play was one of the most incredible performances I have ever seen.

It was also my first time watching a Shakespeare play. I had studied his work a little, and seen school performances but this was my first time experiencing it properly. I wasn't overly familiar with the story of Coriolanus . I'll be honest with you - I hadn't actually heard of it until I was asked if I was interested in going. The cast was a big selling point for me: Tom Hiddleston, Mark Gatiss, and Alfred Enoch.

watch the story unfold

The performance of the entire cast was phenomenal. Like I said, I wasn't really familiar with the plot or the Shakespearian language. There were times I wasn't too sure what exactly the actors were saying, but I understood what was going on through the gestures, tone of voice and body language. Each person carried their part of the story, and passed between one another with such an impressive grace. I felt myself leaning forward, eager to watch the story unfold.

The choreography of the fight scenes was equally as flowing. During the interval my friend admitted to me she was worried that if either of the actors let go off their swords, we would get hit in the face but clearly the swords were in professional hands. The way the whole production was staged was great. It was minimalistic, with nothing on set but a row of chairs and a ladder. The costumes were a mix of jeans, hoodies and armour breast plates. Rose petals, pebbles, indoor fireworks played their role to enhance certain moments. At one point water flowed on to the stage.

Here I will have to be careful not to slip too much in to talking like a fan girl but please give me one moment to give praise to the shower scene. I nearly got sprayed by the water off a shirtless Tom Hiddleston (who gave a flawless performance throughout) I tried my best to keep my facial expression as 'ah yes, what a moving piece of theatre' rather than swooning in my seat. I don't know how well I succeeded.

I did not expect a visit to the theatre would have moved me as much as this did

The ending - and if you don't want spoilers skip the next sentence - where Coriolanus had been strung up by his enemies. His throat was sliced open, and he was strung up by his feet on a chain in front of us. It was the most strangely compelling thing to watch. I felt weighted in my seat, and unable to look away. I couldn't talk afterwards; I didn't have the words for it. I don't think I've felt such a sense of awe giving a round of applause before.

Throughout the entire performance I was totally absorbed. All the slip ups in the day, all the deadline stress - any distractions completely faded away. I did not expect a visit to the theatre would have moved me as much as this did.

It made me remember why I love going so much - you get such a feeling of involvement seeing acting in front of you than you do in a film. I am hopeful that I could maintain going to the theatre as I get older, but I know this play will stick with me for a long, long time.