I forgot my camera, which was unfortunate as there were times in this play when my fingers itched to be grabbing photos. These two were taken with my phone. (And one of them doesn’t want to load in its correct orientation)
We made this not-often-produced play a priority and I’m glad we did because the location of Pettygrove Park was a good one. The sculpture “The Dreamer” and the hills where the audience sat added a lot to the setting. Fun Wikipedia fact: the mounded hills inspired this park’s nickname: Mae West Park. Further opinion: I’m not sure anyone actually uses this nickname anymore. Or if they ever did.
The sculpture was used as a device to manufacture sound. One of the actors “played” it with rubber mallets during battle scenes which added a lot to the action.
The play was tight and held my attention, despite the intermittent rain. Arthur Delaney was a solid Coriolanus. We’ve seen him before in other productions. I also enjoyed Allison Rangel and Heidi Kay Hunter as the two tribunes.
Aside from the rain, this performance provided us unique theater-in-the-park experience. During the climax, a passerby wandered into the action, first touching Ken Yoshikawa on the back during an intense interchange with Arthur Delaney. Ken turned to see what was happening and then turned back and kept going.
The man retreated to sit with the audience on the hills talking loudly to himself, with a woman–possibly the stage manger–trying to coax him away. Just as the cast erupted into the final fight scene the man ran into the fray, grabbing Arthur Delaney by the back of the neck.
“Back the fuck off, asshole!” Allison Rangel’s voice rang out as she broke character advancing on the man as everyone stopped. He retreated immediately. “That’s right, keep going,” she yelled as he disappeared. Everyone, actors and audience, stared, following his retreat. “I apologize,” she continued, addressing the audience, “That’s my boyfriend,” she said, meaning Delaney.
In the manner of all unexpected situations things were quiet for a beat before one of the actors asked, “Shall we start the fight scene over?” There was a mutter of agreement, the cast reset and we watched Coriolanus be killed for his betrayal.
Rangel’s quick action in a scary situation and the actors carrying on while most of them must have been completely freaked out brought home what a solid production this was. We won’t soon forget Coriolanus.