Normally one of Shakespeare’s most infrequently-produced plays, Coriolanus is having a moment. Two Portland companies are staging outdoor productions of the play this month. Depending on who produces it, the Roman political drama can serve as a warning against the dangers of mob rule or an indictment of a tyrannical, self-congratulating elite. Like most art, though, it is most interesting when bounces between these two cliched poles, especially in an election year marked by extremes. Between Hillsboro’s Bag & Baggage and the Portland Actors Ensemble, B&B sets the bar. Its all-female production is the first recorded performance in U.S. history of Thomas Sheridan’s 1754 adaptation. As the title character, Cassie Greer lends the production explosive energy, commanding the room every time she enters it. The exception is when Bethany Mason’s equally-compelling Aufidius joins her on stage. Clocking in under two hours, the show barrels along with the vigor and electricity of General Coriolanus himself, and it’s not until the final moments of the play that the audience even has a chance to process the destruction. GRACE CULHANE.
The Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza, 150 E Main St., Hillsboro, 7:30 pm Thursday-Saturday, July 7-23. $20.