- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell
Helen Borgers, the director of the Shakespearian play, Cymbeline (which opened at Long Long Beach Shakespeare’s Richard Goad Theatre Aug. 23 continues there through Sept. 21) says that all the plays Shakespeare wrote are equally great.
Perhaps, but as another great writer wrote in a very different context, some are more equal than others.
Cymbeline is a comedy, with most of the cast (save the King’s step-son, who was last seen as a headless corpse) ending up happy.
It’s also a history, of sorts, since it takes place in the court of King Cymbeline, an early British monarch. And it is also a melodrama.
There are great moments in the play, and it has one great, well-drawn character, Imogen, who endures much with stoicism and grace before the play’s happy ending. But it isn’t in the Bard’s top ten, though a good production is well worth experiencing. And this is just the one.
Fiona Austin is Imogen, the one really well-developed character in this play. In her starring debut with LBSC (she has done other roles, but this is the first since here recent graduation from Loyola University of Chicago) and she is the pivot around which the rest of the drama swirls. She is innocence and charm and practicality and on an even keel when the rest of the play is all over the map.
Rae Andrada, as the Queen and Imogen’s evil stepmother, is pretty much the opposite: cheerily evil, strikingly beautiful in medieval headdress, leering at the audience, enjoying every evil moment. Posthumus Leonatus, Imogen’s intended, is played with intensity by Seann Atkinson. Nate Clute as Guiderius and Randi Tahara as Arviragus, stolen sons of Cymbeline, and Mark John Brown as Belarius, the man who has kept them living in the woods for years, are a curious and reliable trio. Mike Austin, Fionna’s father, is Pisanio, Posthumus servant.
Yes, the plot is confusing, but the story, part fairy tale, part history, is enjoyable and it’s well worth seeing one of Shakespeare’s lesser works..
Tickets are $20, $10 for students. Performances are Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., through September 28.
Details: (562) 997-1494, www.LBShakespeare.org
Venue: Richard Goad Theatre
Address: 4250 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach