Image by Catherine Steele.
Set upon a series of tiered white planes, this Cymbeline foregrounded Shakespeare’s jagged and uncompromising prose, his torturously fractured speech-rhythms and borderline incomprehensible plot. Not because the actors, all second-year acting students, were anything less than superb, but simply because it is such a strange play. The actors carried the play with aplomb, making the lines that extra bit clearer, doing their utmost in their beautifully designed and tailored jackets and dresses and skirts to make the play as believable, as real, as possible. One of his Romances, Cymbeline’s ending – another classic revelatory ‘wonder-upon-wonder’ scene – can seem rather awkward and implausible on the page. Here, under the direction of Tom Wright, the scene – indeed, the production – was measured, carefully timed and beautifully judged; what could have fallen over itself became moving, and the grace with which it was played fed reversely back through the previous two-and-a-bit hours, leaving us drained, ours brain fizzing as we tried to make sense of the whole crazy mad tale.