CityArts Review: The Raw Power of ‘Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch’

Photo: John Ulman

“The relentless, driving direction of Emily Penick kept this story of war, loyalty and betrayal tense and exciting, and the performances were masterful (mistressful?), with emphasis on Nike Imoru as the title character. Rough, confident and utterly compelling as the complex Roman general shoved uncomfortably from the glory of war into politics, Imoru gave us a fully realized, three-dimensional human character, brutal and sometimes funny, fiery and tragic. I found myself booing her tyranny, empathizing with her complexity and cheering her victories.”

“Wendy Robbie (of Twin Peaks and People Under the Stairs fame) is Coriolanus’ clever and pushy mother—kind of the ultimate Mama Rose—and I was impressed by her strong Shakespearean chops and focused performance. Some other compelling performances asserted themselves: Kate Witt as Menenius Agrippa, the harried and suffering political pragmatist trying to hold the Empire together and quell the insurrection of her starving, angry citizens. She was both humorous and fraught, with just enough of a nod to Hillary Rodham Clinton. Colleen Carey brought a strong performance as the murky and clever Aufidius, leader of the rival Volscian army, first Corolianus’s enemy, then reluctant ally. The sexual tension between these two fierce frenemies was palpable.”

“The timing of Rebel Kat’s Corolianus couldn’t have been more astute: It was easy to see the nightmare of our current political climate reflected in its situations and characters. But the breadth and complexity the actors brought to their characters added a dimension of empathy and understanding—dare I say, even likability?—to a cruel and despotic ruler, unqualified and thrust into public life.”

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Photo: John Ulman