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Critique of Cymbeline Essay


Cymbeline was the production that was chosen for our final critique. Cymbeline was directed by Kathleen Weiss whom of which is a guest from the University of Alberta. Tricklock Company had an enormous influence on the production corresponding with the ideas of the director. I was given the opportunity to observe Cymbeline at The Experimental Theatre located at the University of New Mexico on Friday 13, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. I was extremely thrilled by the sitting arrangement the X-theater provides the viewers. The sitting arrangement was very similar to the Betrayal production. The sitting arrangements were almost like environmental or thrust performance space. It appeared as if we were sharing the same performance space as the actors, but on the other hand I noticed that the audience was on three sides of the performance space. This made my overall reaction very positive because I felt like I were one of the characters on stage and I could really feel the emotion behind each actor. In this essay I will discuss one technical element and one non-technical element; the technical element I choose to discuss is the costumes and the non-technical element is the acting.

William Shakespeare, in his play Cymbeline attempts to reveal to the audience the betrayal that goes on between numerous characters during the duration of the play. Imogen, the daughter of Cymbeline, goes against her father's wishes and marries Posthumus, instead of his stepson, Cloten. Cloten is the son of Cymbeline's new Queen, a villainous woman who has made the king her puppet. Cymbeline sends Posthumus into exile in Italy, where he encounters a hard ass Italian named Iachimo. Iachimo argues that all women are naturally unchaste, and he makes a wager with Posthumus that he will be able to seduce Imogen. He goes to the British court and, failing in his initial attempt to convince the princess to sleep with him, resorts to trickery. He hides in a large chest and has it sent to her room; that night he slips out, observes her sleeping, and steals a bracelet that Posthumus gave to her. Cloten continues to pursue Imogen, but she denies him harshly. He becomes furious and vows revenge, while she worries over the loss of her bracelet. Iachimo has returned to Italy displaying the stolen bracelet and an intimate knowledge of the details of Imogen's bedchamber, convinces Posthumus that he won the bet. Posthumus, furious at being betrayed by his wife, sends a letter to Britain ordering his servant, Pisanio, to murder Imogen. But Pisanio believes Imogen is innocent, and he convinces her to disguise herself as a boy and go search for her husband, while he reports to Posthumus that he has killed her. Imogen becomes lost in the woods and she comes upon a cave where Belarius lives with his two sons, Guiderius and Arviragus. The two young men are not his sons but Cymbeline's; Belarius has kidnapped them. They are unaware of who their true parents are. They welcome Imogen, who is still dressed as a boy. Cloten appears, having come in pursuit of Imogen; he fights a duel with Guiderius, who kills him. Guiderius cuts off the head of Cloten. Imogen, feeling ill, drinks a potion the queen has given her. Although the queen told her it was medicine, the queen herself believed it to be a poison. Belarius and his adoptive sons come upon Imogen lay her body beside that of the slain Cloten. Imogen wakes up and she mistakes the body of Cloten for that of Posthumus, and she sinks into despair. Imogen would rather be dead so she can rest with her master. Posthumus believes his servant carried out his orders and killed Imogen, and he regrets his actions. Posthumus and Imogen are reunited, and they forgive Iachimo, who confesses his deception. The Queen dies, leaving the king free of her evil influence. Cymbeline frees the Roman prisoners and even agrees to resume paying the tribute.

The costumes in this production were well conceived and I felt they conveyed the message well. The costumes brought the play to life and I could picture this in the Roman times. All the costumes flowed great together and told the story of Cymbeline will graciousness. The strength of each costume is what I feel made the play. The set was very simple; therefore it was up to the costumes to convey where each scene took place. As an audience member, the costumes placed images in my head and I was able to close my eyes and picture myself walking around the court with Imogen and Lady Emilia, playing ball with Posthumus, or at battle in the woods. The costumes were all very simple, but got the message to the audience. Complexity isnt always good because it is hard for the audience to figure out the character a person is trying to become or portray. The acting in this production made it memorable. There were two actors that did an astounding job; Cloten and Iachimo. It is difficult to pick between the two, but I feel Iachimo did an excellent job at being two-faced. Iachimo showed emotion when he spoke and that is hard to come by in a play written by Shakespeare. Iachimo had cockiness to his character and conveyed this well. He was so devious by leading Postumus to believe he had been with Imogen. He caused a lot of anger in other characters. I feel when he apologized at the end, he showed great remorse. Iachimo expressed every emotion of his character and did so with magnitude.

To conclude, I have discussed a thematic analysis where I described how the play leads the audience to see betrayal among several characters. Also, how betrayal affected the lives of others. I continued to discuss specific elements that made the play work for me and kept me interested. These included the costumes and the actors. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at The Experimental Theater and getting the chance to see my instructor do something she has a passion for. I must confess that this is the first Shakespeare play that I enjoyed and understood completely. I look forward to upcoming Shakespeare plays.

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