Theatre review: Cymbeline

One of the Bard's lesser-known works is getting an airing.
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One of the Bard's lesser-known works is getting an airing.

Cymbeline, by William Shakespeare, directed by Ivana Palezevic.

​That productions of Shakespeare's plays are finding no shortage of outlets in the Wellington region is as true this year as it has ever been.

But it's not just the Bard's best-known works either: demonstrated by the Lonely Shakespeare Collective's current production of Cymbeline.

Hamish Boyle plays suitor Iachamo.
Jim Chipp

Hamish Boyle plays suitor Iachamo.

Many things work against it as a play, not the least of which is its length and the difficulty commentators have in deciding the type of play it is.

It's also very complex, ranging across many locations and time spans and from intimate love scenes to raging battles. It also seems to incorporate many elements of other better known Shakespearean plays.

Yet for all that this production works exceedingly well, and as noted in the programme, the de-construction of the play to its essential elements to fit a cast of eight, creating a boutique style production set to a Victorian theme, works very much to its advantage.

Central to the story is Imogen (Ivana Palezevic), who, after her husband Posthumus (James Bayliss) is banished from court by Cymbeline (Anthony Hogan), wonders around the countryside lost and alone dressed as a boy being put upon by two near-do-well suitors Iachimo (Hamish Boyle) and Cloten (also played by James Bayliss).

Much happens along the way and in-between including a very cleverly stage battle scene until finally the couple are reunited.

The simplicity of the staging is this productions strength with the paired down scenes flowing seamlessly one to another to keep the story moving and holding the audiences interest.

And all the eight cast perform with great confidence, defining their characters well, most playing at least two each, with clear, articulate diction, proclaiming some of Shakespeare's finest dialogue with great passion.

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As played by Palezevic, Imogen is no simpering Juliet but a feisty woman holding onto her virtue at all costs while Bayliss portrays Posthumus as having genuine feelings for her, particularly at the beginning, even though he sells out to his supposed mate Iachimo.  In this role, Boyle is not perhaps the schemer he could but nevertheless does maintain an air of nastiness about the character while Bayliss in his other role of Cloten makes him every bit the clown that he is.

And along with the other cast members they make this a very watchable and entertaining production of one of Shakespeare's lesser known plays.

Cymbeline, Bats Theatre, Wellington, to April 29.

 - Stuff

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