Theater Review: "Cymbeline" At A Noise Within
The play, one of the last the Bard wrote, sets itself up in a traditional manner. The king, Cymbeline (Joel Swetow) has banished Posthumous, the husband (Adam Haas Hunter) of his daughter and only surviving child, Imogen (Helen Sadler). Imogen's stepmother (Francia DiMase), the current queen, has designs of her own for the throne, and convinces her husband to send Posthumous to Italy, where he meets Iachimo (Andrew Elvis Miller), a scoundrel who takes it upon himself to test the fidelity of Imogen and Posthumous' love.
Sounds like your standard rom com, right? Well, not quite. "Cymbeline" is one of the less often-performed Shakespearean plays, and as the play goes on, it becomes apparent why that is the case. While A Noise Within's production is commendable, even director Bart DeLorenzo cannot solve some of the play's more problematic moments (a long unintelligible stretch in the middle of the second act comes to mind).
A large part of what makes "Cymbeline" work when it does (which is most of the time) is the cast. Sadler and Hunter create a very well-grounded couple around whom the play revolves. The play works because despite their characters' faults, the audience is ultimately rooting for their happy endings. Miller is another standout as the lothario Iachimo. The double casting also gives the actors ample opportunity to show both their comedic and dramatic chops, and seeing the cast exhibit such a wide range of emotion is rewarding.
Ken Booth's lighting design contributes nicely to the world of the play, while John Ballinger's compositions do a good job of capturing the mood in every given situation. Slightly more confusing were Angela Balogh Calin's anachronistic costumes.
Taking on "Cymbeline" is not a challenge to be taken lightly, but A Noise Within has done great work with such a troublesome play. The moments that don't work do not detract from the show in a significant way, and the play is an enjoyable experience.