Helen Sadler and Time Winters in "Cymbeline" at A Noise Within. (Craig Schwartz )
After seeing director Bart DeLorenzo’s lively staging of “Cymbeline” at A Noise Within, one wonders why Shakespeare’s rollicking romance is not more frequently produced.
Reputedly one of Shakespeare’s final four plays, “Cymbeline” is a tragicomic mélange that freely samples Shakespeare’s earlier works. Among other delightfully unlikely plot elements, there’s a young heroine dressed as a boy, a villain who steals a souvenir to malign a faithful wife, even a potion that induces a death-like sleep.
DeLorenzo favors the silly in his delightfully over-the-top interpretation, and his conceit of having the actors do double duty in contrasting roles works wonderfully.
Adam Haas Hunter plays young lover Posthumus with impressive ardor but also accesses his inner goofball as Cloten, the piece's comical villain. Francia DiMase, who plays the elegantly poisonous Queen, also plays a gruff, bluff man's man.
Andrew Elvis Miller plays both a heroic Roman general and Iachimo, a hilariously oily wannabe seducer who sullies the name of Imogen, daughter of King Cymbeline (excellent Joel Swetow, also doing double duty as Posthumus' wealthy host in Rome). Time Winters shines as Posthumus’ loyal servant, Pisanio, and also as a Gaoler (although barely visible in Ken Booth’s intermittently gloomy lighting design).
Playing several roles, Jarrett Sleeper and Paul David Story are particularly engaging as rough-hewn rubes unaware of their princely origins. And although she only plays one role, young Helen Sadler is precociously accomplished as Imogen, Cymbeline’s much-wronged daughter and heir. Her performance is the cherry on the top of this frothy and fun confection, which reminds us not to take our Shakespeare too seriously.
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“Cymbeline,” A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena. Ends Nov. 18. $40-$52. For performance schedule, call (626) 356-3100 or go to www.anoisewithin.org. Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes.