We were very much looking forward to Shakespeare’s Cymbeline at the Sam Wanamaker. The first play the Bard had written for the new, inside stage at the Blackfriars indoor, it was meant to be the perfect fit for the Globe’s candlelit jacobean space.
In this regard, Cymbeline is a bit of a missed opportunity. Admittedly Shakespeare is still learning to write for the intimacy of an indoor theatre and Cymbeline’s tragicomedy feels like a work in construction compared to the complexity of The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest (both of which will also be staged at The Wanamaker over the winter).
With its many plots, lurching between romance raucous humour, racy scenes, battles and patriotic moments, the play is a challenge to bring to life. Director Sam Yates finds the balance between comedy and tragedy deftly, but the production lacks imagination and feels stiff at time, a far cry from the expected extravaganza.
The lighting, such a strong asset of the theatre, is less than its usual magic. And what of Alex Baranowski’s subdued score? It feels strangely irrelevant - at times even non existant - to a play that is begging for more luxurious texture.
Some highlight though, the strong and charming presence of Emily Barber’s Innogen, well supported by Jonjo O’Neill’s Posthumus and Pauline McLyn’s wicked Queen. But it is the disturbingly intimate night scene as well as the immersive battle moment that bring the play to life.
|What||Cymbeline, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review|
|Where||Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, 21 New Globe Walk, London, SE1 9DT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Blackfriars (underground)|
02 Dec 15 – 21 Apr 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 AM
|Website||Click here to book via Shakespeare's Globe|