By William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Currier
For tickets / schedule :
Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University of California
RUN: July 3 – July 26, 2015
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(July 11, 2015)
Cymbeline is a seldom produced play mixing elements of previous Shakespearean works with fairy tale elements. Loosely based on the actual British king who reigned from approximately 10-41 C.E., it tells the story of a wicked stepmother and an imprisoned princess who finds the strength to break free of her bonds and reunite with her true love. The story includes familiar elements such as a girl dressing as a boy, mistaken identities, and lost royals in the wilderness. It has been propounded that perhaps the play is Shakespeare spoofing himself, like the tongue in cheek Princess Bride. Director Robert Currier has mined this play for comic gold, presenting it as a light hearted romance, caricaturing the evil characters, and augmenting musical aspects of the original text.
Billie Cox was primarily responsible for adapting the songs, based on a mixture of inspiration from Shakespeare’s lyrics and original concepts. I caught a whiff of Gilbert and Sullivan, with occasional excursions into rock songs, similar to A Knight’s Tale. The production was not quite a musical; those who are not fond of the genre can still enjoy the play.
Marin Shakespeare’s Cymbeline shines in it’s incomparable casting. From henpecked King Cymbeline (Paul Abbott) to the antics of First Gentleman (Timothy Huls) the characters came alive splendidly. The cackling queen (Lee Fitzpatrick) reminiscent of Queen Cersei sweeps her way through nefarious plots. Equally despicable Iachimo (Davern Wright) attempts to seduce the princess, turning to guile when his charms fail. Using physical comedy to great effect is Thomas Gorrebeeck as Cloten, the queen’s son. The pair of lovers, Princess Imogen (Stella Heath), and Posthumus (Thomas Gorrebeeck as well) are believable and sympathetic. Stella Heath brings fire to her role, without losing a sense of dignity. All too often, modern actresses portray royalty while clomping about with shoulders slumped, but she brings a grace and nobility to the role. The direction is admirable, save for a few times breaking the third wall to explain plot points that were exceedingly obvious.
Costume Designer Tammy Berlin is especially to be commended for elegant streamlined designs that assist with recognizing each character’s role through color. I was quite taken with the queen’s flowing blue gown and delicate Elvish elements to her crown. Richard Pallaziol’s fight choreography was entertaining, such as the opening of hostilities in Cymru between the Romans and Britons, showcasing their wildly different combat techniques.
Journey to Forest Meadows for a fairy tale adventure couched in Shakespeare’s transcendent language, with a stellar cast romping through early Brittania. Do not miss this seldom performed play; a captivating evening of humor and true love.