Saturday, April 23, 2011

Shakespeare's Cymbeline

It is time for another quality production at the Northwest Classical Theatre Company. Don Adler directed Cymbeline, a Shakespeare play that when I read it, I found it lacking in a lot of elements, cliched in many acts and laughable in others, although this production made everything a-okay!
Before the show begins, Matt poses on stage. Behind him is a mural telling the story of Cymbeline.

"O, for a horse with wings" cries Imogen, impatient to see her Posthumus.

Because we've developed this relationship with the Northwest Classical Theater Company, it's fun to try and figure out how they are going to bring to life certain scenes. For instance, in this play, a character gets his head cut off--don't worry, he deserves it--and there is some dialogue where one character holds up the head and brandishes it about while discussing how he came to cut off the head. A theater of more means has more ability to hold up heads and brandish them about. They could, for instance, have a head made of silicon and hold it up. Or, the audience could be sitting far enough away that they could make a passable imitation of the head and no one would notice. But in this theater, when there is not really a "backstage" and the actors are never farther than eight feet from some part of the audience, how in the world would they brandish about a head?

I can tell you that they successfully did "cut off" a head and brandish it about and it was one of the funniest parts of the play. They also managed to consolidate an entire very bizarre scene where Jupiter (you know, the god) was to visit a sleeping Posthumus. Instead, they substituted Johnny Cash singing U2s song "One" while visions appeared on stage. With apologies to Shakespeare, it worked much better. Of course, the Bard didn't have access to Cash, Bono or the Edge, and was at a disadvantage. Overall, this was a delightful production and I'm happy that we discovered this company.

In this production Nathan Gale and David Burnett were funny in multiple roles, mainly that of Arviragus and Guiderius. I hope we see them again in future productions. Melissa Whitney was outstanding (as usual) as Imogen. The male "NWCTC members trio" of Butch Flowers, Tom Walton and Grant Turner brought great life to their roles of Pisanio, Posthumus and Iachimo. Rhianna Walton, though no Doll Tearsheet, was an excellent one-eyed soothsayer. Matt and I have run into Matthew Dieckman a few times over the past few months, as much as you can run into someone you recognize from a play. His Cloten was sufficiently "rotten" and I the image of his head being lofted about onstage will probably be a highlight of my theater memories for years to come.

After the play, we stayed for cupcakes and sang "Happy Birthday" to Shakespeare, who turned 422 that weekend.

Cymbeline closes May 15, and your next opportunity to take in this fabulous company is October 14, when they begin their 2011-2012 season with King John. I know where I will be going for my birthday this year.

1 comment:

Sara K. said...

It is funny that we both saw this show this season. Rare, obscure, and in need of a really good editor. It is fun to see how the 'lesser works' are done!