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Cymbeline, the King of Britain, is angry that his daughter Imogen has chosen a poor (but worthy) man for her husband. So he banishes Posthumus, who goes to fight for Rome. Imogen (dressed as a boy) goes in search of her husband, who meanwhile has boasted to his pal Iachimo that Imogen would never betray him. And Iachimo's determined to prove him wrong. Written by
Cymbeline has been described as an experimental tragi-comedy, or among the first dramatic romances, but neither is adequate to describe the perfection of the final scene of the play when Shakespeare weaves golden unity from the chaos of loose threads. Mr. Moshinsky breathes life into this production by using the palette of the great Dutch Masters whose paintings minutely chronicle the mundane but serve as visual metaphors for the existence of the transcendent which underscores every moment. In a great cast, two performances really stand out. Helen Mirren's Imogen, the symbol of fidelity, resonates with tragic depth and constancy. The range of her voice is given full sweep especially in the ironic scene in the cave after she awakens from her drugged sleep. Claire Bloom's Queen, a very glacial villainess, scared me much more than if she had been portrayed as a stock evil step-mother.
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