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The English Department took the A level English students (as well as some budding bards from Year 10) to the Barbican to watch The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘Coriolanus’. The play, forming part of the RSC Rome season, is a set text for Year 12 and 13 and is also covered in Year 9. With its depiction of the abuse of power, the play has never been more relevant.

The production, directed by Angus Jackson, featured rising star Sope Dirisu as the eponymous hero. Dirisu gave a compelling performance, suggesting the vulnerability that lies beneath Coriolanus’ aggressive behaviour. A particularly bold move was casting the tribunes Sicinius and Brutus as female, giving the play a modern flavour. The other cast members combined to good effect, creating an ensemble that seamlessly merged from outraged Roman citizens to conspiring members of the Roman court.

Above all, the set design was particularly striking – a metal shutter divided the stage into two sections, suggested a divided city at the heart of the play. The final scene saw the stage bathed in a red glow, leading a poignant tone to an effective interpretation of a play of enduring relevance.

It was evident that the students appreciated seeing the play in performance – studying drama takes on a new dimension when seen rather than read, and this was no exception.