You'll have to excuse the use of artwork (source), because my phone is a terrible camera, and I am a terrible photographer. If it helps, imagine a bunch of people stood or moving around on a stage, with a certain amount of acting.
I also apologise for this review only applying to those people who live close enough to Cambridge to get there before (or including) the 28th July. That's when they stop putting this on.
"They" are the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, who for two months every summer, put on eight of Shakespeare's plays (two lots of four). For most of the time I've been in Cambridge, I've been to at least one every summer, but hoping for more than that this year.
In the first set of four however, I opted for Cymbeline, it not being one I've seen before. Good choice, past me.
It's primarily the tale of Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline, and Posthumus Leonatus, her lower-born husband. Also involved is the Queen, Imogen's stepmother, and Cloten, her son by a previous husband. Cloten is a rival for Imogen's affections (he hopes!), though his mother is desperate to be rid of her in order to allow her son to take the throne. Confusing the matter further, Cymbeline's two sons were stolen away at the age of three, twenty years ago. I'm sure there's no way they'll reappear later in an surprising twist.
That's a fair amount of backstory, and unfortunately, this is one of those plays that starts off with an explanatory monologue. It's dense, and very hard to make more enjoyable. Gives it an awkward start, though luckily the dialogue once we get going is significantly better.
As always, it's masterfully done. The props are minimalist, and the setting of Robinson's College Gardens is a pleasant one, with just enough space to allow the running about that gives this cast their lively nature.
King Cymbeline has the required gravitas, but the Queen is an absolute delight playing the evil manipulative stepmother. It's impolite to boo Shakespeare, but my god did she make me want to. The other "evil" character, Iachimo, with whom Posthumus stays, attempts to seduce Imogen, and does it by way of David Tennant in Don Juan in Soho. The resemblance was uncanny, and the mannerisms close. Slightly confusing.
Imogen and Posthumus were reasonable romantic leads, though they didn't have much to work with in terms of chemisty. However, her putdowns of Cloten were sparklingly brilliant. Friendzoned so hard. Well matched with the guy playing Cloten though, as he was hilarious.
He did Cloten by way of TOWIE, with plenty of mugging to the audience, quite a lot of duck face and posing galore. He also played the court's doctor, and did a nicely deadpan speech at the end, summing up the petty evils that turned out to be far funnier than it should have been.
The climax was easily the best part of the play, turning as it does into almost complete farce, and far too many "yep, I did that, sorry" reveals. Also contained the now legendary hat removal.
An excellent evening and a fun play. Catch it while you can