Reviewed by Blair Zilkey
I always enjoy seeing the ‘popular Shakespeare’s: – “Twelfth Night”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, “Macbeth” etc. It’s fun to compare and contrast my memory of how the play was ‘done’ before; how much I enjoyed each; what was happening in my life at that time; who I attended the performance with, and what’s new this time around. Cymbeline isn’t that kind of production. Photo courtesy of David Hou
If, like me, you hope to see all of Shakespeare’s works at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival as a life’s ambition, make the investment to see “Cymbeline”. But come better prepared than I did; it’s probably the heaviest intellectual lifting I’ve had to do at the theatre in a long time and I would have benefitted from a little research. Ask one of your English major friends for a crash course prior to the show.
Shakespeare repeats many of the storylines from his other works, and I found that a bit…. well – dull. Do we really need another lost child, disguise, and deception story? My answer would be cautiously no….perhaps that is why “Cymbeline” is performed infrequently. However, the main themes of transformation and tolerance- [the world needs lots of this] are explored very well in this production, reminding us once again how very fortunate we are to have the Festival so close to home.
Costume design is striking and helps the audience remember who is aligned with whom. There’s a great fight scene, and an eerie dream sequence that looks spectacular. So much is performed in such a small space at the Tom Patterson stage. For director Antonio Cimolino, plus his team of set, lighting, fight direction and movement credit is well deserved..
The acting is solid, if not spectacular. Tom McCamus as the lecherous Iachimo stands out and isn’t it great to have Graham Abbey back? Geraint Wynn Davies does his best work at the play’s end; his emotion moves all, especially fathers and their daughters. Unlike the Montagues and the Capulets, he does transform before it is too late and implores his subjects to both “forgive, and deal with others better.” Hear! Hear! Perhaps this work of Shakespeare should be performed more often indeed!
“CYMBELINE” runs until September 30th.