by William Shakespeare.
Phizzical in association with Belgrade Theatre Coventry Tour to 5 December 2013.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 November at Curve (Studio) Leicester.
Shakespeare transposed looks good.
Is that sound William Shakespeare turning in his grave? Thinking, ‘If only I’d lived till this day, I might have fame and fortune in Bollywood. Never mind buying the largest house in Stratford, I could own the whole town’.
Samir Bhamra’s adaptation for Phizzical theatre locates Cymbeline in Bollywood territory, Cymbeline its Bollywood royalty. The political division moves from ancient Briton and Rome to Hindu and Muslim, across which Innojean and Sherruddin elope.
The script spells this out in the final minutes, making a comparison with Romeo and Juliet apparent, though Cymbeline’s fantastic stories and coincidences make it the apter play for Phizzical treatment. What team of scriptwriters, in what studios wheresoever in the world, could come up with a more fantastic storyline – creating tensions that leave the stretch-marks of credulity unnoticed till after the feelgood end?
Yet Bollywood resources aren’t available to Phizzical. There’s entertainment value in watching a small-scale production handle the potions, plots and improbabilities, becoming increasingly open with the audience about theatrical tricks.
Nicholas Gauchi’s Cymbeline doubles, via a pair of specs, as his foolish son Cloten, who’s beheaded on stage, lying headless and discovered by Innojean, who mistakes the corpse for her beloved Sherrudin.
In the end-of-plot explanations there’s a sudden problem as Adam Youssefbeygi’s Sherrudin has to double as a doctor. Cue more specs and, once used, Sherrudin is neatly restored as Innojean removes the glasses from her lover’s face.
There’s a happy energy to this, though the verse-speaking suffers by a style closer to the open emotionalism of commercial film acting than the subtlety and flexibility Shakespeare requires.
But there are sensuous surrounds to compensate. A couple of simple-seeming set pieces from designer Kate Unwin prove flexible – the doubling of an under-platform area for the secretive Yakim’s concealment (a fine athletic performance from Tony Hasnath) and the sleeping-quarters of the honest brothers Girdhar and Ravi is another neat detail.
Arnim Friess bathes many scenes in golden light, music creates strongly atmospheric sounds, including a fateful four chord melody, and the combat scenes are exciting enough to make anyone want to provoke a quarrel.
Cymbeline/Cloten: Nicholas Gauchi.
Narrator/Bharti/Yakim/Girdhar: Tony Hasnath.
Malika/Bela/Dancer/Eunuch: Liz Jadav.
Pisanwa/Arjun/Eunuch/Ravi: Robby Khela.
Innojaan: Sophie Khan Levy.
Sherrudin Khan/Dr Cornelius/Eunuch: Adam Youssefbeygi.
Director: Samir Bhamra.
Designer: Kate Unwin.
Lighting: Arnim Friess.
Composer: Ajay Srivastava.
Background Music: Devesh Sodha.
Movement: Sonia Sabri.
Voice/Text: Nia Lynn.
Combat director: Chirag Lukha.
Associate director: Rebecca Tremain.
Assistant director: Rebecca Robson.