Cymbeline, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, Shakespeare's Globe, London. March 2013.
This was my final trip to this season at the Sam Wanamaker Theatre and Rebecca and I were introducing the venue to the Upstart Wren, after such a great season I was nervous that my luck couldn't hold and I hate to say I was right, but...
To be honest many of the problems I (and the others) had with this play could be put down to the script. Although classed as a 'Late Play' it is so mad and contains so many aspects of other great plays that I wonder if it was in fact a very early play before Mr Shakespeare learned that less is more... There are girls dressed as boys, mistaken tokens, drugs that mimic death and that is before we even get to lines that are certainly recycled.
I knew it was a crazy play - let's face it, any play that needs Jupiter to descend from the ceiling to sort out the mess gets you wondering what the author was smoking - and I hoped that the Globe venue would really play on this.
Sadly what we got was a really anodyne production, it all seemed to be stuck in one gear and never took off.
The truly creepy scene was played so flat that people were laughing - and we're not talking "I feel really uncomfortable so I giggled." The scene could have been played for laughs but it wasn't here and so I found it very odd indeed.
The truly bizarre unraveling of the plot at the end was greeted by gales of laughter too - it was funny but by this time we were all looking for *any* emotional release that it got far more laughs than it deserved (and often ahead of the text).
Unlike the rest of the season the theatre also felt very close and uncomfortable - I hope that the Upstart Wren will try the venue again as this season I have seen 3 outstanding plays, and one very good one in the Playhouse and this was a disappointment. I'm pleased that I had the chance to see this play but I wish that The Tempest had been my final show of the Dominic Dromgoole era.