Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Ambitious, Intense

About the show

Red Bull Theater's visceral mounting of Shakespeare's political tragedy features Broadway star Patrick Page ('Cymbeline,' 'Casa Valentina'), RSC veteran Lisa Harrow, and two-time Tony winner Stephen Spinella.

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The streets are full of protest. Economic inequality strains the social fabric. Debates rage throughout a nation riddled with dissension and distrust. It’s election year in Rome, 493 B.C.E., and as unscrupulous politicians manipulate public opinion, the hypocrisy and humiliation of campaigns drive away the country’s finest. But beneath this political drama looms the personal tragedy of one principled man’s emotional blindness.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

NY Theatre Guide

"I could write a sonnet to Michael Sexton’s inspired direction. He has an iron grip on the text and has created a constant sense of the battle charge – a fast, furious attack on the senses where we are placed literally in the center of the action...The 12-strong cast feel like hundreds of people encircling us. The casting is just brilliant with every actor bringing exquisite performances...It’s the perfect piece to unsettle oneself and bring up debates around the nature of power and politics." Full Review


"Spectacular and gripping...The obscure character of Coriolanus becomes more viscerally realized and empathetic through the expressive largesse of talent displayed by Dion Johnstone…I cannot bestow enough praise on this thrilling production whose harmonies of spectacle, action, staging, lighting, costume, and set design so form a complete whole that I cannot easily imagine another 'Coriolanus' as facilely driven, yet sparely, acutely executed…This is a true treasure of a presentation." Full Review


“So many characters switch loyalties at such breakneck speed that it often becomes a blur of blood, guts and shouting. No such problems with the Red Bull Theater’s production. Director Michael Sexton plows through the text with his modern dress production, taking no enemies, relating the exciting story of Caius Martius—later Coriolanus—making each and all of its bloody turns crystal clear. He mines the political aspects of the plot, deftly dovetailing them with today’s headlines.” Full Review

The New York Times

"You don’t have to squint too hard to discern unsettling contemporary relevance in the Red Bull Theater’s gripping new production of Shakespeare’s 'Coriolanus'...Setting this play in a simulated America of today carries greater weight...Fortunately, Mr. Sexton’s streamlined production won’t just have you sitting in your seat bemoaning the troubling future of our country. It will also hold your attention in its own right, through simple but forceful staging and superb acting." Full Review

The Week

"An exceptional production...As conceived by director Michael Sexton, it could have been written this year...We barely need the explication he provides, as the parable is still operative today, used by Wall Street’s defenders to describe banking’s necessary function in allocating capital...Sexton’s production is careful to make its critical correspondences between then and now promiscuously bipartisan." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"In its first half, Sexton’s production is an exciting mix of bloody combat, political drama, and wry comedy. In its second half, the uniformly excellent cast delivers a series of heartbreaking scenes...The modern trappings of 'Coriolanus' provide the audience some extra food for thought, but even in togas, its cast would be well worth seeing. Their exceptional work, driven by director Sexton’s brisk pacing and intelligent staging, is like red meat for hungry Shakespeare lovers." Full Review


"This production really holds a mirror up to our media-soaked eyes and ears. But its center is the acting. A sterling cast! Johnstone inhabits the titular character with a trenchant virility. He spews out his character's lines with force and clarity...The rest of the cast also delivers...One of the remarkable things about this production is that Coriolanus, one of the Bard's' most unlovable characters, becomes sympathetic...This 'Coriolanus' gives new legs to an unpopular play." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Thanks to the political climate, the show takes on a profound relevance. Michael Sexton has streamlined this production so minor characters are cut; it is long but the staging is powerful and the acting sublime...Mr. Johnstone, commands the stage. He has such a powerful dignity that he makes us hurt in the end...The women are who truly succeed in this production...'Coriolanus' shows how we are being victimized into turning against each other for the sake of an election." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"For fans of Red Bull's work, this production of the bard's late tragedy does not disappoint...Director Michael Sexton conducts the play at a fever pitch...While Shakespeare's language remains blessedly intact, expect to see contemporary costumes and references to our own looming and contentious presidential election. Red Bull has gathered together a winning team with a great ability to bring Shakespeare's words and the play's themes to pulsing life." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"We are gifted with three strong characters. Dion Johnstone’s Coriolanus has all the aspects of a modern soldier…He’s a subdued character, championed by an exceptionally strong mother figure in Lisa Harrow’s proud, powerful, loving Volumnia; and Patrick Page’s outstanding Menenius. Page comes off as James Carville meets Colonel Sanders, an affable older statesman who’s so charming that it’s impossible to find much fault in his Machiavellian maneuvers." Full Review

Epoch Times

"Timely and riveting production...Director Michael Sexton makes the show timely by cutting certain scenes...Johnston is magnetic as Coriolanus, a proud and driven man, but one unable to look beyond his own needs and status...Offering a strong warning about arrogance, power, and mass manipulation, this production clearly shows 'Coriolanus' to be as relevant today as when it was written." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Few playwrights have understood the dynamics of political power so thoroughly, and Sexton's mordant staging has an undeniable, unsettling timeliness...The shattering of the fourth wall is rarely as effective as it is here; this 'Coriolanus' is staged as a town hall meeting in a democracy that is quickly becoming unhinged...Sexton has assembled a cast especially skilled at conveying these cutthroat maneuvers and set to deliver the dialogue at a fast and furious pace." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Though distinct parallels emerge between Shakespeare’s late-period tragedy about electoral politics in 493 B.C.E. Rome and our current situation, you’re not required to draw any. Given that this complex text has been condensed, you’ll be busy just tracking the action. There’s plenty of it in this visceral production...Johnstone, rippling with vigor, plays the conflicted title character." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"The production, which has been expertly executed by director Michael Sexton, features an all-star cast, telling a story that feels especially poignant within our current political climate...Johnstone portrays the role of Coriolanus with poise and grace...That being said, it is his fragility that truly elevates his performance...Harrow’s performance is equally notable. She possesses an inherent strength and stillness that is rare to find in even the most prestigious venues." Full Review

Show Showdown

"The similarities to today are perhaps over-emphasized--no one would have missed them!--but it doesn't hurt the excellent production. The production's main strength is a relentless energy that pulls the audience from scene to scene...On the other hand, it has a cost. Actors play multiple characters, and it isn't always clear who's who...However, this 'Coriolanus' is one of the most emotionally rewarding productions of Shakespeare I've seen in a while." Full Review

AM New York

"Invokes the spirit of Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, with commoners getting up in arms over what they perceive to be a corrupt and rigged society. A scene where a ballot box is smashed apart with a baseball bat is especially disturbing. Although it is rarely staged, 'Coriolanus' is a solid and straightforward drama, and Red Bull deserves a lot of credit for having the foresight to bring it back into the public eye at this very moment and for presenting it with such vitality." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Shakespeare’s seldom-done late tragedy about elections...takes a topical and timely leap to the present day in this provocative new production. Canadian actor Dion Johnstone makes his Off-Broadway debut and commands as the trash-talking warrior who’s unstoppable on the battlefield but an epic fail on the campaign trail. Coriolanus is a hard guy to like, but this invigorating Red Bull revival goes down easy." Full Review

New York Theatre Review

"Eschewing high gloss in favor of high craftsmanship, Red Bull’s 'Coriolanus' commits to Shakespeare’s social reality where an entire body politic is active in its own demise...The play’s cultural reflections to today, sometimes in the form of direct references, are sprinkled in like spice...The entire ensemble has crafted this work with delicacy...Director Michael Sexton clearly has equal respect for the play as its tangible self, and the play in its response to current politics." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Both the adaptation and Sexton’s approach seem cavalier about details...The text has been wisely trimmed, though haphazardly...Luckily, such distractions are outnumbered by excellent performances...The opportunities to see 'Coriolanus' are so infrequent that it’s easy to recommend Red Bull’s clearly spoken, energetic production, even with its inconsequential frippery." Full Review

Broadway Blog

“‘Coriolanus’ strikes brilliant sparks of contemporaneity in its depiction of an unpleasant, egotistical, angry, and prideful leader, incapable of self-understanding, and consumed by a drive for power and revenge...Michael Sexton’s direction manages the difficult feat of presenting what seems a full-text version with only a dozen actors...Dion Johnstone cuts a commandingly convincing figure as the brawny, rage-filled soldier who is nonetheless submissive to his domineering mother.” Full Review


"Admittedly, there is something ultimately unfulfilling about this 'Coriolanus'. It moves too quickly, its topicality is a little too easy, and it lacks a cohesive driving force. We may often smile with recognition, but we are rarely left feeling as if choices have been made for concrete reasons. Instead, I left with the nagging sense that Mr. Sexton has not really cracked this play." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Absorbing, Relevant, Resonant

See it if like shakespeare set in modern times

Don't see it if dislike above

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You like Shakespeare well told and well acted! With great staging to keep you engaged and interested with a relevant story.

Don't see it if You don't like long Shakespeare. It is a long winded play kept fresh by the actors, but it is still long winded.

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you enjoy seeing Shakespeare staged with contermporary flair

Don't see it if you prefer traditional historical staging

Fantastic staging and masterful acting., The director used a spare hand to achieve much., Thought-provoking, relevant, intelligent production., Absorbing and powerful., Stunning and surprising all the way through.

See it if You like contemporary staging of WS, want a challenging and intense theater experience, can appreciate stagecraft with minimal sets/props.

Don't see it if You hate WS, don't enjoy plays with topical relevance, don't want to think, want elaborate production, don't like politics or strong POV.

Absorbing, Clever, Thought-provoking, Profound, Relevant

See it if You want a Shakespearean drama that is relevant to our elections. You want great acting & staging. You want a thought provoking drama.

Don't see it if You don't want to see a political drama. You don't like verse plays. You want contemporary dialogue.

Sound and fury

See it if See it for the first great scene after the intermission or for the chance to see any Coriolanus.

Don't see it if But despite pruning, it is long and loud, and somehow without an authentic sense of life. I could not suspend disbelief.

Great acting, Great staging

See it if you like Shakespeare and want to see a modern version of this show. It is very well done.

Don't see it if you don't like to be yelled at. This play has a lot of yelling and the audience is part of the show. It works for this play but be warned.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if You like Shakespeare. Superb acting. Patrick Page terrific. Bare stage but great effects. Very political. Moves quickly. Never boring.

Don't see it if You don't like modern dress for Shakespeare. If you don't like minimal staging. If you don't like Shskespeare.

Absorbing, Intense, Relevant, Resonant, Confusing

See it if You've never seen this Shakespeare before -- it's an exciting, fast-paced version that's relevant to our time.

Don't see it if You're not in the mood for Shakespeare, war, politics, or blood.

Intelligent, Intense, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Ferocious, steamrolling, streamlined adaptation of Shakespearean power play. Acute direction and hypnotic lead performance engrossing

Don't see it if A little battle fatigue as well as overwrought Trumpian metaphors can slow proceedings

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you like Shakespeare and you enjoy good acting

Don't see it if you are unfamiliar with the story; it can be difficult at times to understand what is happening.

Also This is a very good group of actors. Patrick Page,Dion Johnstone and A... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if To hear Patrick Page's voice, hear Lisa Harrow's fluid Shakespeare. Committed performance by lead. Surprising humor in unexpected places.

Don't see it if You dont like violence. You dont like updated Shakespeare. You need scenery and want even a few frills.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Relevant, High energy

See it if you are open to a political play in Shakespearean language but with a contemporary take; modern day relevance shows what a genius WS was

Don't see it if you want traditional sets and costumes; don't want a high energy performance where the actors come from all sides or bloody & loud fight

Absorbing, Moving, Visceral, Accessible, Immediate

See it if you like raw, real Shakespeare adaptations with great acting and relevant themes. One of the most engaging renderings of the Bard I've seen.

Don't see it if blood, war, yelling and having the actors all around you bothers you, or you like your Shakespeare more formally performed.

Great acting, Intense, Indulgent, Disappointing, Overrated

See it if You have never seen Coriolanus, want to see Lisa Harrow and Patrick Page in great performances, can tolerate the excesses of the production.

Don't see it if If you like your Shakespeare straight forward without gimmicks, and would prefer a great ensemble to inconsistent acting. Overly "muscular"

Clever, Great acting, Riveting

See it if You enjoy creative staging and a fresh take on a challenging play

Don't see it if You are a Shakespeare purist and are expecting a traditional setting and staging.

Also Be aware that there are also strobe light effects, fog, and actors mov... Read more Read less

Funny, Intense, Entertaining

See it if You like classic Shakespeare in a modern setting with a dash of humor. ThIs play is a tragedy, but it was pretty funny.

Don't see it if You have a short attention span.

Great acting, Masterful, Riveting, Great staging, High energy

See it if You love Shakespeare or even if you don't - just a great play. Every actor strong. Engaging direction. Coriolanus and Volumnia riveting.

Don't see it if You dislike longer shows (2+ hours). But there's not a note wrong in this production. Great "starter Shakespeare" for newbies.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking

See it if Like Shakespeare. Very relevant for today's political environment.

Don't see it if If you didn't listen well in high school English class.

Funny, Clever, Entertaining, Great staging, Different

See it if You like Shakespeare,immersive theater,interactions with actors and like shows where you move around, sit and stand

Don't see it if You aren't a fan of Shakespeare, you don't like interactive theater.

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if you want to see an inventive, imaginative, wonderful Shakespeare production. Prepare to be delighted.

Don't see it if you prefer more traditional interpretations of Shakespeare.

Also Translates very nicely to the political/economic current day situation... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Entertaining

See it if want an intimate, visceral and energetic production of a seldom seen Shakespeare play; cast is excellent; show moves very quickly.

Don't see it if don't like modern dress productions of Shakespeare

Absorbing, Refreshing, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you love Shakespeare; you are engaged in this political season

Don't see it if you find shakespeare boring; you want a straightforward play with a happy ending

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Resonant, Riveting

See it if You like your Shakespeare smart, sharp, and searing. Has contemporary relevance without overwhelming the text,

Don't see it if You need your Shakespeare in a museum.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Profound, Relevant

See it if Enjoy a refreshing take on Shakespeare that comments on current electoral politics. It's all here. Great acting!!!

Don't see it if Think Shakespeare isn't relevant or you can't handle the truth.

Cast & Creatives (18)