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This Season at Stratford

Exhilarating

“In the context of an antiheroic tale, it tends to ennoble the wrong thing. The near starvation of the Roman poor and the threatened destruction of Rome itself? Nothing much to moan about there. But the self-induced downfall of an arrogant autocrat? That’s a tragedy.

Or a slick one, anyway — and this “Coriolanus,” produced in collaboration with Mr. Lepage’s Montreal-based company, Ex Machina, is nothing if not slick. That’s an anomaly at Stratford, whose focus is usually less on machinery than on performance and whose ethos is usually more earnest. And so even though I found the production exhilarating, it also left me uneasy about its precious self-regard.

Stratford Festival
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Vivid snapshots

“Lepage is exercising his authority over a play that can easily veer out of control psychologically and structurally. At one point in the text, Shakespeare comes up with a dizzying succession of brief scenes so fast and fleeting that you wonder whether they have any value at all. But Lepage brings them off brilliantly, turning them into vivid snapshots with point and substance. Tracking shots and fades — astonishing in live theatre — show a readiness to reach into a cinematic tool kit dating back to the silent era while also harnessing it to an effects technology that firmly belongs in the new millennium.”