William Shakespeare’s CORIOLANUS, a tragedy based on the life of legendary Roman leader Caius Marcius Coriolanus, is now performing in repertory at the Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. Artistic director Ellen Geer co-directs with Melora Marshall, both of whom also appear in the cast.

CORIOLANUS can be understood as a cautionary tale of political manipulation and revenge. Rome, a city where the one-percenters rule, is led by a populist general who has nothing but contempt for the common people and cannot reconcile his disdain for the citizens with the love for his country. Caius Martius Coriolanus is a fearless soldier but a reluctant leader. His ambitious mother and the senator Menenius Agrippa attempt to carve him a path to political power, but he struggles to change his nature and do what is required to achieve greatness.

David De Santos is fantastic in his role as Caius Martius Coriolanus. He adds just the right amount of cockiness into a believable aura of bravery. His character is an odd hero – he is hot-headed, unkind, and he cares for no opinion more than for his mother’s – and yet, through De Santos’ performance, the audience is moved by his demise.

Marshall, as Menenius Agrippa, delivers perfectly the witty bits that The Bard added to the story. Her part was written for a man, and yet, it fits her perfectly.

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Center: Melora Marshall / Photo by Ian Flanders

This play has a large cast of over 40 actors, including Alan Blumenfeld, Tim Halligan, Max Lawrence, Franc Ross, Andy Stokan, Christopher Wallinger, and Michelle Wicklas, in the main roles.

There are plenty of exciting fight scenes, choreographed by Aaron Hendry and Dane Oliver. The performance is enhanced by Marshall McDaniel’s original music and sound design.

Time goes by quickly while watching this production of CORIOLANUS, which is always a sign that the cast has captured your fancy and taken you along for the story.

CORIOLANUS performs in repertory with Shakespeare’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller, THE CHALK GARDEN by Enid Bagnold, which joins the season on June 30; and a rare revival of HAITI by William DuBois, originally presented by the Negro Theatre Unit of the Federal Theatre Project in 1938, that kicks off on July 28. All of these productions will play in repertory through September 30.

This beautiful theater is terraced into the Topanga Canyon hillside, so you are advised to dress casually (warmly for evenings) and bring cushions for bench seating. You can also arrive early and picnic before a performance.

Tickets for CORIOLANUS range from $10 – $38.50; children 4 and under are free. The Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 North Topanga Canyon Blvd., in Topanga, midway between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley. For a complete schedule of performances and to purchase tickets, call 310-455-3723 or visit www.theatricum.com.