Premiere US Premiere
Production Language English
Country of Origin England, United Kingdom
Description Sexual jealousy, mistaken identities, familial strife, and rampant confusion all come into play in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre’s delightfully rendered Cymbeline, a labyrinthine, ultimately redemptive tale of love nearly lost. Contrary to the play’s reputation of being overly complex and difficult to stage, this is Cymbeline as Shakespeare must have conceived it: profound yet leavened by riotous and unexpected tragedy-skirting mishaps that take the action from Ancient Britain to Wales and to Rome. Under the high-octane direction of Mike Alfreds, a cast of six ultra-versatile actors and two musicians—costumed in flowing white silk on a stage bare of décor—assume Cymbeline’s nearly 30 roles.
Front-and-center is the virtuosic, chameleon-like performance of the Globe’s artistic director, Mark Rylance (recently seen in the film Intimacy). A marvel of lightning-fast transitions, Rylance effortlessly inhabits the disparate roles of the doctor Cornelius, the boorish and conniving Cloten, and the stalwart Posthumus, banished husband to Jane Arnfield’s ardent Princess Imogen. Astonishingly adept, Rylance transforms his slight, wiry frame to suggest the physical idiosyncrasies of each character, at times exchanging dialogue with himself to hilarious effect. Taking a cue from The Bard, who in this late work cuts loose with form, language, and structure, the performers treat the production as an adventure in storytelling, enticing the audience into an act of collaborative imagination.