Royal Shakespeare Company: Cymbeline (2016)

Hiran Abeysekera, Romayne Andrews, Gillian Bevan, Doreene Blackstock, Eke Chukwu, James Clyde,
Britain is in crisis. An ineffectual King Cymbeline rules over a divided dystopian Britain. Consumed with grief at the death of two of his children, Cymbeline's judgment is clouded. When Innogen, the only living heir, marries her ...
  • 7.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • William Shakespeare, Writer:
  • Melly Still, Director:
  • Zoe Donegan, Producer:

All subtitles:



ratinglanguagereleaseotheruploaderdownload
0Englishsubtitle Royal Shakespeare Company: Cymbeline download
9 / 10

Excellent Production

Once again, due to the lack of any other reviews of an RSC film, I am forced to write one. (I always prefer reading them to writing my own, but will do so should there be none). This was a very, very good production. They stayed quite true to the play, although it seemed that the uniforms would place some of the combatants at a later time that the start of the first millinium, when Shakespeare set it. However, the costumes of the British, particularly the Welsh mountaineers, were seemingly appropriate to the time.

The main female lead, Imogen, is played by Bethane Cullinane who brings and energy and passion to the many ups and downs experienced by this young lady who finds herself head over heels in love in a fractious court during perilous times. Her husband, Posthumus, was played by Keran Abeysekara and although I would have preferred a larger physical frame (his rival for Imogen's affections towers over him by a good six inches and at least fifty pounds), his fervent deliveries more than compensate make this potential drawback somewhat trivial.

The sexes of several characters - the King, the Queen, the doctor, the most important attendant and one of the kidnapped heirs to the throne - have been reversed, necessitated some pronoun, name spelling and official title alterations, but this provides no impediment to the overall fine presentation.What was somewhat strange was having siblings of different racial coloration.

Of particular note was the very effective manner with which 'asides' were handled: all other characters of the stage would freeze, some high pitched electronic music would play, betokening a somewhat mystic environment, and the aside would be delivered, with the audience thus never having to worry about how the other characters on the stage at the time are not privy to the utterance. Also, the manner in which the Queen is saved during the climactic was also staged in quite a 'Wow!' manner.

Having watched the 1982 and 2014 movie adaptations of this play, I was looking forward to the scene in which Shakespeare requires Jupiter to descend from the heavens to deliver some oracular pronouncement to a Posthumus who feels he is near death. This is to occur after he's been approached by the shades (ghosts) of his dead parents and brothers. The little cut out pieces of paper did NOT do the job of the ghosts, which were much more convincingly presented in Moshinsky in 1982 movie and (although three of the four were missing) in Almereyda in 2014. However, the arrival of Jupiter was splendidly done here - with the shocking drawback that it wasn't Jupiter at all! O well, directorial license is always a good thing, though it does lead to inevitable disagreements and disappointments.

Overall, very, very well done and well worth the little over three hours of viewing time it requires.

5 / 10

"Fear no more the heat of the sun"

'Cymbeline' is one of the lesser known Shakespeare plays and that is evident in a very scant available video/DVD competition of film and stage productions. It is a shame, because while it is nowhere near among Shakespeare's best it does deserve to be performed more and it is more down to being difficult to stage, with one of Shakespeare's most complicated (sometimes over-complicated and at times bizarre) plots, rather than the play's quality. Actually think it is one of the better lesser known plays and worth it for some memorable quotes and the final scene.

This 2016 Royal Shakespeare Company production of 'Cymbeline' left me quite conflicted, really did not know what to make of it but concluded when pondering that it was a watchable but frustratingly uneven production. One with a great cast and an improved second half, but not visually attractive, too overdone in the first half and a hodge podge of fairly conceptually intriguing if perplexing ideas done too little with. It is interesting for its numerous reversals of character genders but this 'Cymbeline' is going to be very love or hate. Despite not being perfect, the 1982 BBC Television Shakespeare production was more my cup of tea actually.

What saves 'Cymbeline' (2016) is the cast, with everybody excelling in particularly the second half when the drama is meatier. Bethan Cullinane is deeply touching and resilient as Innogen and the maternal quality Gillian Bevan brought to the title role was interesting and somewhat refreshing while also showing his defiance. The standout of the males was the haunted Posthumous of Hiran Abeysekera, closely followed by Oliver Johnstone's unsettlingly cunning Iachimo. Marcus Griffiths makes a dolt of a character amusing and more layered than what one might think initially. Graham Turner is very good as Belarius and a highlight of the second half.

It's worth sticking with the production in order to see it get much better with the second half. Which did have a lot of emotional impact (much of it very heartfelt), was more coherent and didn't feel as hectic. The characters are also more nuanced from being more intimately focused on them and character relationships more complexly explored. The final scene is beautifully staged and performed. The music is occasionally a little melodramatic but is on the most part wonderful, the orchestration tugging at the heartstrings.

However, this 'Cymbeline' could have been a lot better. It is not the most attractive of productions visually, aside from the beautifully intimate video directing, and that is putting it lightly. The costumes are actually pretty ugly and trying to discern where and when the production was meant to be set was hard. There is very little imagination in the sets which were drab in some places and gaudy in others.

Although the second half is very well done, the first for my tastes was quite chaotic. Too hectic in pace, with the production seeming to mistake manic for enthusiastic, and with an excessive whirlwind of oddly intriguing ideas that are half-baked and truly perplexing at best in the execution and felt like too many undercooked ingredients thrown together into a simmering cauldron. They also don't do anything to make the drama clearer or add much insight, if anything the most perplexing touches confused it. Would go as far to say most add nothing to it and also jars with the text, the more pastoral moments of it not matched by the visuals. Seeing as 'Cymbeline' is already complicated plot-wise that lack of cohesion as a result of the underwhelming execution of those ideas was somewhat alienating.

Overall, found it quite difficult to rate and review this production. 5/10