BWW Review: CYMBELINE at Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre
The enthusiasm of the cast was obvious to all as the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre production of William Shakespeare's "Cymbeline" kicked off its run three week run through November 26.
"Cymbeline" is one of Shakespeare's earliest compositions and part of the First Folio. It takes place in old Britain during the Roman occupation. This play gives us an early glimpse of what was to come later in his works. It is about the lust for power which only seems to grow stronger throughout history.
The sixteen member cast includes six principals and ten additional actors who each take on multiple characters. The five act play (typical for Shakespeare) is performed in mostly modern dress over three hours with one intermission.
The kingdom is of Queen Cymbeline (Manon Halliburton) is in multiple crisis. She has received an edict from Rome demanding that she pay "tribute" to the Emperor. Should she fail to remit military action can be expected. The Queen's life is complicated by her daughter Imogen (Marie Warner). Imogen has refused to marry the man chosen by her mother in service to the royal bloodline.
Imogen marries her own true love, Posthumus (Logan Black), only to have him banished from the kingdom. Confused yet? The story is further complicated by the fact that many of the actors playing multiple roles.
Ms. Halliburton's strength of character overpowers all that surround her. Scott Cox as the Duke (the husband), Belarius (the mysterious), and a banished soldier shows us his great versatility and helps to bring the show alive. There are many performances worthy of mention with a cast so large and multiple roles played by so many. It is difficult to pick actors out at random for mention, especially with a large cast.
Standouts included Marie Warner as Imogen was full of surprises. Logan Black's Posthumus risked it all in service to his love. Also Jordon Fox as Dr. Cornelius and Matthew Emerick as Cloten stand out in my mind as exceptionally believable. In a smaller role veteran actor Alan Tilson took my notice because of his previous good works. Newcomer Colin Fewell in multiple small roles was good enough that we hope to see more of him in the future.
Director Karen Paisley has found a way to take a much complicated story-line and make it flow. Director Paisley adds humor in the oddest places. And yes I did laugh. The absurdity of it all adds to the moment. Karen must have felt at times like a traffic cop sending the action this way and that. With quick pauses between scenes and not a lot of set pieces being used, the three hour play moves along quickly.
Shakespeare can be a challenge with the dialogue to the modern theatre patron. With a fast moving show and interesting characters "Cymbeline" is made more fun and interesting. The enthusiasm of the cast and credit for this must go to the director.
"Cymbeline" runs through November 26th at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre of Kansas City. Box office number 816-569-3226 or online at METKC.org.