Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cymbeline ****

(Always click on the title to see the complete review!)
Let me add my voice to the chorus of praise for this very clever production of Shakespeare's problematic late romance.  Fiasco Theater, a group of six recent graduates of the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program (Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Paul L. Coffey, Andy Grotelueschen, Ben Steinfeld and Emily Young), have shaped this thorny work into an entertaining production. It ran for two sold-out weeks last winter at the New Victory Theater and recently reopened at Barrow Street Theatre. Proving that less is sometimes more, the cast of six play 14 roles on a set consisting of two wooden crates, a sheet, and what's billed as a "fabulous trunk." They also play musical instruments and sing beautifully. And who said a little Appalachian folk music can't serve Shakespeare well? The acting mostly avoids crossing the line into tongue-in-cheek. The second half, with its battle scene, headless corpse, and final reconciliation scene, is especially gratifying. Brody and Steinfeld codirected with Brody also serving as fight director and Steinfeld as music director. You needn't be an ardent Shakespearean to enjoy this ingenious version. Running time: 2 1/2 hours including intermission.

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