This weekend KCST
put on made their audience chase after Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and Madysen Luebke was there to watch run with the show.
Between Havemeyer and Hartley on three very cold spring evenings, KCST’s spring production of Cymbeline brought humor and laughter to a campus preparing for finals. The little known Shakespearean tragedy—albeit a very humorous one—was an overall success despite its anonymity. Director Elizabeth Power managed to bring a cast of over sixty people together in a way that helped the audience to understand Cymbeline’s many plot lines. Power also managed to navigate the various settings of the play seamlessly. The Low steps were fitting for the royal palace, the magnolia tree in front of Math made for a picturesque cave, and Alma suited Italy perfectly. Power’s use of space was not only well suited to the story, but also allowed for the audience to place the scenes instantly.
The setting, however, would be nothing if it were not for the well-coordinated ensemble work. Every main character had a following of three to four people whose purpose was to react outrageously to every word. For any other play this may have been too over the top or cheesy, but for Cymbeline, the reactions were merited. As a whole the small groups worked well together and it was clear that they were a unit. The final scene was evidence enough of this, as each group had their own coordinated reactions to every surprise that was revealed. In some cases, however, the costuming could have been more reflective of their positions. Some of the queen’s ladies looked as though they could have been mountaineers. As a whole the costuming could have been more consistent, but that being said it did not detract from the experience.
For a show performed outside, it was surprisingly easy to hear the actors. For Ione Wang’s portrayal of Imogen, the fact that she needed to practically yell to be heard added to her characterization, in an overall good way. Imogen is one of Shakespeare’s feistier heroines, and Wang did her justice. It was the scene between Imogen (Wang) and Cloten (Taha Wiheba) that showed just how spunky Imogen really is. In fact, any scene that included Imogen was stolen by her energy. Another notable performance comes from David Gassett as Iachimo. Iachimo is a slimy villain, yet Gassett made sure that we still loved him in the end. Unlike some of the other actors who seemed hesitant to acknowledge the vulgarity of Cymbeline, Gassett was not afraid to use every word to his advantage. As a result, his jokes were some few that the audience truly understood.
The other main roles of Cloten, Belarius (David Froomkin), The Queen (Tessa Slovis), and Posthumus (James Rodrigues) were also well performed. Cloten and the Queen were comedic hits. The audience laughed at Wiheba’s dim-witted portrayal of Cloten and embraced the dry sarcasm of Slovis’s Queen. Belarius and Posthumus were less dymanic characters, however, as they were the more dramatic characters in the play. Froomkin’s Belarius managed to deliver lines in a way that would incite laughter, but unfortunately the character of Posthumus was meant to be head over heels in love, not funny. What would have really made the audience fall in love with Posthumus would have been to see greater affection between Posthumus and Imogen. In the final scene, the two characters are reunited after having thought the other dead, and yet a friendly hug was all the two exchanged. Nonetheless Rodrigues gave Posthumus innocence and naiveté to make the audience cheer him on.
While the main characters were well played, the show owes much of its success to the smaller roles such as Caius Lucius (Alex Dabertin), and The Frenchman (David Silberthau). These two did not have many lines to say, but that did not stop them from stealing the show. While exposition was happening around them, they were not afraid to draw the eyes of the audience. Caius Lucius spent the entirety of the final scene on his knees tied up, but “get on with it already” was written all over his face, humorously not reacting to the ensuing family reunion. And when King Cymbeline announced that England would pay tribute after all, Dabertin’s smile did not falter. Similarly, when Silberthau was not delivering lines in a brilliant drunken French accent, he was perusing the ladies of the room, offering them wine. Drama might have been brewing between Iachimo and Posthumus, but the Frenchman was happy just to try and get with the ladies.
The entire cast and crew of Cymbeline really deserves a round of applause for not only having the guts to perform such an intricate play, but also for doing so in a seamless manner. The KCST’s performances were ambitious in taking on Cymbeline, to say the least, but the risk paid off greatly.