Cymbeline: Shakespeare’s Senioritis

A six-person Shakespearean production is a tricky thing to stage.  Actors and costume designers struggle with creating distinct characters, kings are executed only to reappear as rogues, and, since the small cast is often a monetary necessity, players tend to botch the language and confuse the action; the end result is the kind of stultifying mess that turns people off of Shakespeare in the first place.

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Gently To Hear, Kindly to Judge, Your Play

The stage is plain and simple—a chair with some ladders and rafters—and the actors are clearly visible from the seats.  Completely dismissing the fourth wall, they walk through the audience in costume to greet friends, they joke loudly to each other backstage, and when director Jenny Bennett shows up, one theatrically bellows, “There is my directress!” My first impression of the Classical Theater of Harlem’s new production of Henry V was one of unpretentious, self-conscious perfection.  But sloppiness that first seemed premeditated and fitting became mere slop, and I, in turn, became disenchanted.

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