Thursday, February 2, 2017

Review of Strawdog Theatre Company's Cymbeline

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Cymbeline. It was by William Shakespeare, and it was directed by Robert Kauzlaric. It was about a king named Cymbeline (Brandon Saunders) and his child Imogen (Daniella Pereira). Imogen had fallen in love with a young man named Posthumus (Sam Hubbard) and the king was not very happy about his child marrying without his consent. So he banished Posthumus, and the two lovers must find a way to find each other and get their happy ending! It's about forgiveness, fidelity and reunion. I really liked this show. I thought it was action packed, emotional, and hilarious! I really enjoyed it!

I really liked the fights (directed by Matt Hawkins). I thought they were super intriguing because they were very tense and precise and that made them fun to watch. The fights go from normal speed to slow motion, which is great because you can see all the cool moves they are using. Even though there aren't a huge amount of fights in the show, there is never a moment where everything breaks and stops; there is always something big happening. There are so many times when you get really invested in the story. One of the moments I was really invested in the story was when Iachimo (Jose Nateras) was trying to make Imogen fall in love with him, or at least convince Posthumus that she had betrayed him. Iachimo was also insanely creepy; he even called himself evil, which at least shows he is self-aware. Iachimo had been hiding in Imogen's room until she fell asleep, which is creepy thing number one. And then he started brushing her hair really weirdly and whispering to her, which is creepy thing number two. I saw a woman across the way and, whenever Iachimo would do anything creepy, she would put her feet up on her chair and like cringe in a ball. That just shows how invested the audience is in the story. When Imogen takes the potion later in the play, everyone is really intrigued by what is going to happen to her and her honorary brothers Arviragus (Terry Bell) and Guiderius (Dan Cobbler) and father Belarius (Martel Manning). Using -ius seems to be a pattern in this family. At one point it seems like she may be buried alive, and you feel very scared for her.

There are complex and deep relationships in this show, even though the story is more like a fairy tale. Imogen and Posthumus are very happy together until Posthumus is sent away. They seemed to really enjoy spending time together and it seemed to be a really effective relationship. Even though you don't get to see a large amount of their relationship because it is cut off so short, you still see their love for each other in the way they look at each other. They are like the first long distance relationship, though, so they have to deal with not being able to see each other but still be crazy about each other and trust each other. Cymbeline also has a very complex relationship with his daughter because he just wanted the best for her but sometimes what he wanted for her hurts her. I don't think you really see a truly happy moment between them until the end, which is a sad but valid part of the story. In the last scene, there is a lot of forgiveness. Everyone seems to get along once Imogen is reunited with her father. That shows how once an emotional connection that has been lost has been rekindled, it causes a spark in the king's mind and he sees that the world has been merciful to him and he should be merciful to others.

There were a lot of funny moments. The two brothers, Guiderius and Arviragus, seemed to acknowledge the moments where the writing didn't really make a lot of sense. It was really funny to see them make these fake discovery faces about how wonderful Imogen as a boy was and how much like a brother she was, when it was really clear that they liked her as more than just a brother. It might have just been because it was the first girl they had seen in their lives. They didn't seem to know much about women or women dressed as boys, and that was also very funny. Pisanio (Michaela Petro) is kind of like the narrator in this production. Whenever there was a moment that was slightly confusing or that you might need clarification on, Pisanio was there. Pisanio would joke around about Imogen becoming a boy, and she did a great job making fun of the annoying features of men by swaggering around. Pisanio was also a very moral character because there were a few very terrible things that Posthumus had asked her to do, but she came up with her own plan. I think that what makes a very interesting narrator for me is when they have a sense of humor but also some morals. Cymbeline has the most revealing ever in a last scene. The director lets it be very funny, which I think is a good choice. It is kind of ridiculous because everybody is so honest and basically condemning themselves just because they are inspired, which doesn't seem fully thought through. I love Cymbeline, but some of the writing is a little bit wonky.

My favorite character was Cloten (Gage Wallace). He was the really overdramatic prince who was the son of Cymbeline's new queen (Sarah Goeden). He was supposed to marry Imogen, but they didn't really seem like a great match because Imogen is a very soulful and complicated person and Cloten is basically the opposite of that. He thinks everything is amazing or terrible. He has two emotions and they both go to 100 whenever he feels a feeling. Cloten reminds me a lot of if Amy Adams' Giselle from Enchanted was evil and a man. I would totally watch a movie all about Cloten; it would be a sequel to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead called Cloten's Head is Dead. He's so excited for everything; he had one moment where he had just hired Pisanio to be his servant, and then he said "This is going to be your first thing that you do for me!" And once she finished that task, he gave a huge gasp and was like, "This will be the second thing you've done for me." And I imagine if that scene had gone on longer there would have been a lot of things she did for him and he would have done a lot of gasping about it. He has two lords (Andrés Enriquez and Shane Rhoades) who follow him around and they seem to not really "appreciate" him very much. He is most of time a jerk to them, but one of them (Rhoades) keeps his cool and the other (Enriquez) seems to forget Cloten is there and makes fun of him mercilessly. Once when they say something really bad about him, Cloten turns around with a very angry face and says, "No!" Then he says "We must go together!" and skips off giddily. Usually you don't really care when Cloten loses his head, but in this production you do because it is basically like killing a five-year-old, even if that five-year-old is kind of a jerk.

People who would like this show are people who like awesome fights, complicated relationships, and giddy headless princes. I really really loved this show. I thought it was everything I could have wanted from Cymbeline. It was awesome.

Photos:Tom McGrath/TCMcGPhotography

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