Thursday, July 7, 2016

Wherefore art thou, Posthumus?

Shakespeare Northwest delights with second show

By Lily Olason

We’re lucky that the folks at Shakespeare Northwest give us a three-part festival. The Merchant of Vegas ran Tuesday, and last night dazzled with the classic Cymbeline. People have a hard time deciding if this is a comedy, a tragedy, or a dramedy. And I think that suits it just fine.

The love story drips with backstory and plot. But for the Bard hath written it heretofore, here’s the skinny: Evil queen marries unassuming king with a daughter named Imogen, and tries to get the crown all for her greedy self.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

Caroline Rensel makes a perfect choice for the role of Imogen. She brings vocal clarity, masterful presence, and a youthful exuberance unconquerable by all the horrible things that happen to her character. Her rather distrusting husband Posthumus is played by James Brown, who brings a commendable and searing, love-scorned agony to the part, tempered only by the occasional and explosive duel.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

Trey Hatch plays dad to Imogen as King Cymbeline. Hatch, who also plays the Duke in The Merchant of Vegas, gives a great authority figure: lines and energy are delivered with ease and command.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

His conniving Queen is given life by Glynna Goff. Goff projects so well and with such quaking force that the rock behind her reverberates and echoes. Her scenes with son Cloten are bottled lightning.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

Jesse Collins perfectly plays the petulant prince Cloten. He’s sullen and single-minded in his pursuit of royal glory and marriage to Imogen, even though she’s already married and wants nothing to do with him. Though there were several contenders due to his tremendous acting, Collins’ winning scene involves him serenading Rensel with an out-of-tune guitar, which he implores to tune itself.

While Postumus is banished to Rome after marrying his beloved, he meets Iachimo (Glen Nelson Bristow). Iachimo bets he can seduce Imogen and cause her to flub her vows. Bristow gives a wonderful performance as Iachimo, and his scenes with Imogen, Cymbeline, Posthumus and the like are all equally brilliant.

Iachimo’s right-hand dignitary is Caius Lucious, played by Sam Schlobaum. He performs with the precise level of bureaucracy and wit.

Carolyn Travis Hatch plays the oft-exasperated disgruntled ex-courtier, Belaria, with show-stealing humor and theatric prowess. Her physical comedy is reminiscent of Lucy Ricardo and that isn’t easy. Kidnapping the king’s other two daughters and raising them as her own, Hatch runs a veritable off-the-grid existence until Imogen comes a’knockin’.  Sisters Guideria and Arviraga are played by Jessie Spangler and Gilly Kellher, who rock the self-sufficiency wilderness deal. Spangler’s scene bouncing the beach-ball head of Cloten is fine work.

Tess Nakaishi gives a fantastic performance of court page Pisania. She plays with a sparkling innocence and good-natured charm, running back and forth delivering letters and trying to do right by everybody.

Photo credit - Christopher Key

The doctor, or the Oz-like wizard in charge of the whole enterprise, is played by Beth Salmon Greatorex. On a hunch, she switches the death potion the queen sends out for Imogen for something less potent, and swoops in at the end to recount all the puzzle pieces. Greatorex brings refinement and dexterity to the role.

Elizabeth Lundquist, Seanna Faley, and Josiah Miller are awesome multi-taskers, playing several different parts with ease. Lundquist delights as Dorothy among other roles; Faley gives a great British Captain when she’s not Helen. Josiah Miller has the out-the-road British accent down and the lopey gait of a Monty Python-esque jailer to a T.

Cymbeline runs alongside The Merchant of Vegas at the Shakespeare Northwest Festival in Rexville. You can find tickets, directions, and other info on the SNW website. As always, bring the chairs, bug spray, blankets, and tasty morsels. 

Pray not miss out, fair reader; it doth enchant.

 (The third part to SNW, in case you’re wondering, is a free traveling show that sets up shop in parks around Whatcom and Skagit Counties. Neat, eh?)

No comments:

Post a Comment