This is the 27th production in The Porters of Hellsgate’s pledge to perform the complete works of Shakespeare and it’s actually one I have never seen performed before.
“Cymbeline” is set in ancient Britain and involves the usual Shakespearean themes of jealousy, innocence, love and power. Cymbeline is the king, but the story really revolves around his daughter, Imogen, who has secretly married her childhood sweetheart Posthumous. However, he is considered too poor to sire future kings and is banished to Italy, leaving Imogen bereft and her father's second wife and her vile son Cloten with a dark opportunity.
Their terrible plan is to wed Imogen to Cloten and then to poison Imogen and the king and place Cloten on the throne. Simple! But with Shakespeare nothing ever is. So there are journeys and wagers and doctors with sleeping drafts masquerading as poison and long-lost brothers and betrayal and deep, deep love.
It’s actually a rather beautiful play, I wonder why it isn’t performed much.
There are some wonderful characters and lots of excellent fights and Imogen is by far the best of Shakespeare’s heroines I think. She is bold and brave and outspoken, and she literally takes her fate in her own hands rather than rely on someone else to fix her life and save the day. She saves everyone really, which is utterly brilliant!
The performances are absolutely spectacular. This really is a wonderful cast and I truly believed them all, every beautiful word was spoken with authenticity, passion and glorious empathy. I particularly appreciated the gender-bent casting. The king is female the revolting queen a man. Most of the roles were cast as female in fact, which is a lovely twist on what was when first this was performed.
There is something very special about The Porters of Hellsgate. Their devotion to the greatest of all writers, their ability to find fresh corners of every play and to give everything they can to bring the words alive, is all very inspiring and compelling. This is I think the fifth or sixth of their productions I have seen and I they just seem to keep getting better and better. A special mention to the fight scenes, lots of clanging long swords and people being thrown about the stage very convincingly. There is also a playful modern edge, with some powerful and timely music to connect the play to our present, which I thought was very clever. Porters of Hellsgate are always very, very clever in their interpretations of what could be a bit stuffy and old hat. They really are the Bards of NoHo. Bravo!!!
Run don’t walk…or click quickly at least to get your tickets, they are often sold out and this production of “Cymbeline” should not be missed.
Running from September 8 - October 14, Friday and Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 2PM
Whitmore Lindley Theatre, 11006 Magnolia Blvd, North Hollywood, 91601
Cameron Kauffman, Dawn Alden, Thomas Bigley, Will Block, Jono Eiland, Caitlin McColl, Cindy Nguyen, Kate O'Toole, Kirsta Peterson, Debba Rofheart, Jesse James Thomas, Sydney Rose Walker, and Alexandra Wright.
Director - Charles Pasternak
Asst Director - Liza Seneca
Costume Design - Jessica Pasternak
Scenic Design - Thomas Bigley
Lighting Design - Douglas Gabrielle
Sound Design - Nick Neidorf
Fight Choreography - Jesse James Thomas
Set Construction - Alex Parker, Donald Jarman, Thomas Bigley