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Bare Theatre’s “Coriolanus” Is Must-See Shakespeare

Bare Theatre will open its 10th season with William Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" on Sept. 18-20 and 25-27 and Oct. 2-4 on Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh

Bare Theatre will open its 10th season with William Shakespeare’s “Coriolanus” on Sept. 18-20 and 25-27 and Oct. 2-4 on Halifax Mall — site of the “Moral Monday” protests — in downtown Raleigh (photo by Ron Yorgason)

Bare Theatre emphasizes the political frustrations being enacted on Halifax Mall of late — as protested by Occupy Raleigh in 2011 and “Moral Mondays” since the last election of a governor — with the infrequently performed tragedy the Coriolanus, which has been called the Bard’s “most political play.”

G. Todd Buker, managing director of Bare Theatre and director of this production, says “But what is possible when we stand up? … [M]arching, or getting arrested. It could make a statement. It might even be heard.” And to that effect, he keeps his audience pretty much on their feet, just like the folks in the pit at the Globe Theatre. But G. Todd takes it a step further, so to speak, by moving scenes and requiring the audience to follow along. It’s quite an adventure and well worth the effort involved.

Coriolanus (an honorary name given to Caius Marcius for saving Rome from the Volscian army at Coriole) has one impediment to achieving Consulship, his patrician bigotry toward the common people. He is a man not given to vainglory, but is still without sentiment for the people he would be responsible to. Douglas Lally makes the paradox of Marcius’ personality and character understandable, his unbending adherence to modesty and duty, mingled with a scorn for plebeian society.

Bare's Theatre cast for "Coriolanus" includes (from left) Michael Parker, Doug Lally, Arin Dickson, Nick Iammatteo, and Fred Corlett (photo by Jason Raitz)

Bare’s Theatre cast for “Coriolanus” by William Shakespeare includes (from left) Michael Parker, Doug Lally, Arin Dickson, Nick Iammatteo, and Fred Corlett (photo by Ron Yorgason)

His chief and most virulent opponent, Sicinius Velutus, admirably played by Noelle Barnard Azarelo, is determined to break him of his elitist manners or destroy him completely. Azarelo brings stridency and determination to her male character, accusing Coriolanus as a traitor for not believing in the value of the popular vote of the common people. Preston Edgar Campbell lends the role of Tullus Aufidius, the Volscian general, authority and courage and displays remarkable sensitivity when the exiled former enemy requests he be allowed to join forces so that he may extract vengeance on the Roman people.

Benji Jones wields great power as Volumnia, Coriolanus’ mother, portraying the strength and resolution to persuade her son away from invading Rome. Arin Dickson marches into scenes with all the force of a general, General Cominius, in fact, showing us that women do belong in the military and why, even though Cominius is written as a man. The Senator who befriends Coriolanus, Menenius Agrippa, is worn well by the venerable Fred Corlett, who gives the role the movements and élan expected of a politico. The rest of the cast are easy in their Shakespearean roles and kudos go out to those who play multiple parts.

Fight choreographer Heather J. Strickland once more arranges believable synthetic carnage among her warriors, with this set of battles made the more daring by the use of metallic knives for close combat action and enhanced even more by our tight proximity to it. The production is brought into the present by use of contemporary weaponry. Costumes by Becky Olsen and Todd Buker complete the movement into modern day meaning of the play, dressing their cast in current garb.

Buker additionally contributes to the show by managing the sound design and carrying the music and effects in a boom box along with the audience. This show will only be around through Oct. 4th; and for theatergoers who appreciate novel approaches to classical work, this is a definite must-see production.

Bare Theatre's outdoor production of William Shakespeare's stars Rebecca Blum (center) as Virgilia and Doug Lally as Coriolanus (photo by Jason Raitz)

Bare Theatre’s outdoor production of William Shakespeare’s c. 1605-10 tragedy, “Coriolanus,” stars Rebecca Blum (center) as Virgilia and Doug Lally as Coriolanus (photo by Jason Raitz)

SECOND OPINION: Sept. 19th Raleigh, NC News & Observer review by Roy C. Dicks:; and Sept. 17th Durham, NC Indy Week mini-preview by Byron Woods:

Bare Theatre presents CORIOLANUS at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 and Oct. 2-4 on Halifax Mall, 406 N. Wilmington St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.

TICKETS: $16.52 (including fees).


SHOW: and





Coriolanus (c. 1605-10 tragedy): (Wikipedia).

William Shakespeare (English playwright and poet, 1564-1616): (Wikipedia).

G. Todd Buker (Raleigh, NC director and adapter): (official website) and (Facebook page).


Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.

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Categorised in: A&E Theatre Reviews, Lead Story, Reviews