CORIOLANUS at Stratford

There are three stars in Stratford’s current production of William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Two of them are actors Lucy Peacock, as Coriolanus’s manipulative mother Volumnia, and Tom McCamus as his staunch friend Menenius, each of whom is delightfully at home in the prose. They make it both easy to understand and pleasurable to listen to, far too great a rarity in much Shakespearean acting, whose peculiar words and clunky phrasings can grate on our pop-culture-honed 21st-century ears if not handled well.

The third star, of course, is director Robert LePage’s set, with its mesmerising trompe-l’oeil staging. The chimerical, visually rich effects include a real car, a Roman bathhouse, a chic bar, a rainstorm, and texting soldiers, among other things, all of which are dazzling. Still, one wonders, as with the live elephant in Aida, just how much of it is really necessary and how much is there to make you forget that the play doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

Strange to think that The Tragedy of Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s later works, coming between such luminous plays as King Lear and The Tempest. It tells of the rise and fall of a Roman general, Coriolanus, whose pride is his downfall as he attempts to enter the world of politics. LePage is clearly making a statement about how media affects the current state of world politics. Yet, while there is plenty of hubris, most politicians today are far too canny about their PR to fall into Coriolanus’s trap of being a good person who’s just too dumb to figure out how to work things to his advantage.

I have long said that LePage was the 20th-century Shakespeare—and now the 21st-century Shakespeare—as much for his stunning reinvention of that writer’s works as for his staging of everything he does, including his own work. What he was creating a quarter century ago, others are just catching up with now. The (Ho-Hum) Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, winner of all those prestigious awards, owes more to LePage than any other stage director, living or dead. His constant urge to reinvent is often in line with the needs of the work, but occasionally shows them up, as in this case. What is needed here is not more inventive staging, but a stronger play and a more charismatic lead to make us like Coriolanus, despite his flaws.

While competent, Shakespeare’s play Coriolanus seldom rises above the merely perfunctory. It’s as though he had a mandate to fill—perhaps a gambling bill to be paid off post-haste—and so needed to pump out yet another work between masterpieces. We may never know, but it shows in the effort. Nevertheless, we have LePage and Peacock and McCamus, all of whom make this particular staging of it at Stratford more than worth the visit.

Jeffrey Round is the award-winning author of thirteen books, including the Dan Sharp mystery series. His most-recent book is the politically-themed thriller The God Game (Dundurn).

"WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?" The Politics of Division


PI Dan Sharp and author Jeffrey Round are thrilled to announce the publication of The God Game (Dundurn Books), fifth in the Dan Sharp mystery series.

Please Note: I am unable to update my site at this time. In the meantime ...

Hey, folks! Thought I would share some preview notices for THE GOD GAME (the fifth Dan Sharp mystery from Dundurn), coming in February 2018.

"I never thought Queen's Park could provide such a wonderfully dangerous playground for murder and mayhem, but Jeffrey Round has done it again and kept me up until the wee hours wondering if Dan Sharp will find his killer and survive his own personal mayhem."

SHEILA MCCARTHY, actor, writer, director

"Marriage, suicide and murder converge in this high-stakes mystery-thriller that has PI Dan Sharp questioning who to trust when a political scandal literally lands on his doorstep. A climactic ending I never saw coming!"

JON MICHAELSEN, Lambda-nominated author of Pretty Boy Dead

"A slick, intelligent mystery that allows time for characters and settings to breathe deeply. Round proves once again that he is a master of detail. His skilful narration and dialogue insist the reader be present, as Dan follows a tortuous trail of clues through Toronto neighbourhoods and beyond. Whether Dan is conversing with his son, fighting an attacker, or battling his personal demons, Round manages to infuse each page with deep humanity."

LIZ BUGG, author of the Calli Barnow series

SAVE THE DATE: Thursday March 15, 2018 -- 6:30 to 8:30

Dan Sharp will have his fifth book launch for THE GOD GAME as part of the International Festival of Authors' (IFOA) "Toronto Lit Up" series.

Where: Queen Books, 914 Queen Street East, with surprise readers and musical guests. Hope to see you there. Check Facebook for confirmation in the coming months.

Oh, yeah -- I'll be there too!

Jeffrey Round


Great to be reviewed by one of our best writers, and especially one whose humour is even darker than mine. Joan Barfoot is one of the few scribes I know who looks into the abyss--and laughs.



The Lambda Awards are far more fun and twice as glamorous. Pumped to be nominated again!



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