Cymbeline

By Max Friedlich11th Grade, Friends Seminary Cymbeline is not regarded as one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces like Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet. There is a perfectly valid explanation — it is not one of his better plays. One might say that Cymbeline possesses all of the elements of a typical Shakespearean comedy: mistaken death and identity, fiendish trickery, romance, royals, and innuendo. The Fiasco Theater Company has made Cymbeline anything but typical. In their production, six actors expertly switch back and forth between characters on a beautifully minimal set composed of only a trunk, two boxes and a sheet. Almost all of the actors play at least three roles, and the actors remain onstage even when not a part of the action of the play. These exceedingly talented actors are also musicians who play instruments throughout the play to the elation of the audience. The actors have perfect synchronicity and chemistry. The minimal staging gives the show a sense of both intimacy and whimsy. Lighting, blocking, and sound do not usually stand out in smaller theaters, but they are as integral to this production as the script itself. The highlight of the show is the ability of the actors to emphasize the comedy in the play. Perfect verse coupled with clever pronunciation turn arbitrary lines into comedic gold. On paper, the end of the play would seem very problematic: every single character’s secret is revealed in one five-minute span. The Fiasco gang embraces the ridiculous, giving the audience a wink and saying, “I know. This is crazy. Enjoy!” Fiasco’s Cymbeline is one of the most accessible Shakespeare productions I have seen and it definitely should not be missed. TICKETS: $20 student rush • Barrow Street Theatre, 27 Barrow St. website