Cymbeline

By - Apr 2nd, 2008 02:52 pm
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By Morgan Shelton

Milwaukee Shakespeare Theater’s Cymbeline offers an appropriately layered artistic depiction of the play’s complex storyline. Cymbeline tells a story of fighting – whether it’s for love, power, revenge, land, spite or respect – through a string of sub-plots, each blending together and circling around a bubbling political scene.

Posthumus, played by Wayne T. Carr, is a man of low birth who secretly marries the daughter of British King Cymbeline, Princess Imogen, played by Sarah Sokolovic. After learning of their marriage, King Cymbeline banishes Posthumus to Italy. There, the couple’s love is tested when Posthumus agrees to a wager with Roman soldier, Iachimo, testing his wife’s faithfulness. While Imogen passes the test, false reports cause Posthumus to sentence her to death. Meanwhile, Imogen’s stepmother concocts methods to win her son, Cloten, the throne. A late twist in the play, however, reunites King Cymbeline with his biological sons, whom were kidnapped at birth. As these sub-plots unravel, Britain and Rome turn from friends to enemies as Rome invades Britain and war breaks out.

Just as Cymbeline’s numerous plots reflect some struggle or fight, the text of the play itself features competing storylines that ultimately unite. As these plots overlap and merge into each other, the audience learns the history of one character while hearing the fate of another. It’s fitting, then, that Director Jeffrey Sichel physically thrusts the audience into this world consumed by love, faith and deceit. The audience feels that circling effect when actors break the fourth wall, unraveling the play from all parts of the theater.

The simple, yet symbolic set design offers a practical solution to scene transitions and visually reflects the connection between the characters and storylines. Misha Kachman, scenic and costume designer, overcame potential space limitations by creatively incorporating all parts of the studio into her work.

The play’s strong cast is certainly equipped to handle the complexity of this production, and to add another twist, an interesting casting choice brings us an African-American actor as Posthumus. This decision obviously provides a deeper meaning behind to the King’s disapproval of Posthumus. Joe Foust as Cloten provides the ultimate comedic relief, crafting a character so likeable and sympathetic that his ultimate doom is almost unbearably tragic. VS

To order tickets for Cymbeline, running March 22 – April 20, 2008, please call the Broadway Theatre Center box office at 414.291.7800 or visit milwaukeeshakespeare.com. Tickets range from $15-$50.

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