LAST TIME ON CORIOLANUS: Coriolanus's old friends, Cominius and Menenius, have failed to persuade him to call off his attack on Rome. It looks like the Volscians, led by their Roman general, will finally bring the great city to its knees.
Volumnia, Virgilia and Valeria - the 3 Vs - are the only female characters in the play, and they get trotted out one more time here in a last-ditch attempt to stop Coriolanus. Valeria doesn't even get any lines in this scene. She just stands there, looking grieved and noble, representing all the other women of Rome who don't appear in this play.
Volumnia throws the kitchen sink at Coriolanus here. "If you destroy Rome, all the honour you have won will be effaced by your treachery!" Honour - check. "Look at your little boy! Look at your wife!" Appeal to family values - check. "After all I've done for you, you've never done anything nice for me." Emotional blackmail - check. She's relentless.
I haven't done video compilation clips of other Coriolanus performances as I intended. I will put some together in the very near future (LB, give me back my Fiennes DVD!), but for the moment, the clip below is too good to pass up. It really makes Aufidius's critical line in this scene stand out, and I have yet to see a better performance of it. The clip is from John Barton's Playing Shakespeare TV series from 1982, which is unabashedly one of my favorite things in the world. Honestly, if you like Shakespeare at all (which, as you're reading this blog, I'm assuming you do), you should buy the DVD or borrow it from the library and watch it immediately.
But I digress.
Tune in again tomorrow for the explosive ending of Coriolanus! There will be spoilers, but frankly, if you can't figure out what happens at the end of a play called The Tragedy of Coriolanus, you might be slightly oblivious.