Cymbeline at The Spring, Havant

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In her programme notes director Di Wallsgrove muses over the reason behind Cymbeline’s infrequent performance.

Coming to it for the first time myself on The Bench’s opening night, I’m inclined to agree.

Shakespeare’s text takes time to get going, but when it does it’s beautiful. That said, Wallsgrove’s production has an uneven texture.

Performances are generally good but the verse only seems to truly take flight in Terry Smyth’s mouth - interestingly when given the earthy leg-up of a Welsh accent. Smyth’s whole performance is well-judged. David Penrose – always a master of verse - gives a lovely subtle underplaying to Iachimo, the baddy of the piece.

Alice Corrigan makes Imogen – one of Shakespeare’s less-interesting heroines – feisty and fun and Mark Wakeman’s Cloten is a real comedic firework. I’m not entirely convinced his performance sits comfortably in the show as a whole – but the opening-night audience loved it. However, Jeff Bone, as hero Posthumous, needs to find a bit more variety, a few more angles, to be truly convincing.

Apart from some desperately poorly-conceived fight scenes, the direction, played against Penrose’s beautiful set, works well.

The show’s a must-see because who knows when you’ll get another chance?

Until April 28

JAMES GEORGE