A William Shakespeare writing today could compose “Cymbeline” almost entirely by cutting and pasting passages from his other plays: a heroine falsely maligned from “Much Ado About Nothing,” a husband too easily convinced of his wife’s infidelity from “Othello,” a potion leading to a supposed death from “Romeo and Juliet,” ghosts in a dream from “Richard III,” to name just four.
Director Brian Evans and Available Light Theatre have tightened up Shakespeare’s infrequently produced late tragicomedy and turned it into an event that no serious theatergoer will want to miss. Seven actors play all the parts, with six of them juggling multiple roles, sometimes in the same scene. Only Acacia Duncan remains constant as Imogen, and even she gets to run around disguised as the male Fidele (think “As You Like It”).
In several cases, the actors alternate as antithetical characters. As Posthumus Leonatus, Drew Eberly may be too quickly persuaded that wife Imogen has cuckolded him, and as the Queen’s son Cloten, he has a certain cloddishness. As the devious Queen, Kate Lingnofski all but twirls an evil mustache, but as the kindly Belarius, she helps set things right in the end.
Mark Passerrello lends dignity to the often-deluded title monarch. Laura Crone switches between Posthumus’ insightful servant Pisanio and one of the King’s disguised sons, Guiderius. Jay Hobson is the other son, Arviragus, and a goodhearted doctor, Cornelius. Andrew Trimmer injects some Iago into the villainous Iachimo.
Chances to see “Cymbeline” staged come rarely. Don’t pass it up.
Acacia Duncan (as Imogen) and Drew Eberly (as Posthumus) in Available Light Theatre’s production of Shakespeare's “Cymbeline.”
Photo by Matt Slaybaugh