The new film Coriolanus, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes in the title role, opens in cinemas across the country on 20th January. Generally regarded as Shakespeare’s most political play, it is infrequently revived; the Royal Shakespeare Company has staged only 21 productions between 1893 and 2007, and actors such as Laurence Olivier, Alan Howard, Greg Hicks and William Houston have played the haughty Roman general Caius Martius, who scorns the people, with varying degrees of success. In 1994, the RSC cast Toby Stephens as Coriolanus in David Thacker’s post-1789 revolutionary France production. January’s image depicts the blood-spattered Roman general, following his victory over Aufidius at Corioles and his acceptance of the name Coriolanus. With his chiselled, handsome features, Toby Stephens acquired an army of swooning female fans as a “strident, energetically disdainful, and very young Coriolanus…” (Russell Jackson: Shakespeare Quarterly, Volume 46), although some critics felt that Shakespeare’s Coriolanus should be a mature man, whose striking emotional immaturity is at the heart of his enemy Aufidius’s taunt; “boy of tears”.