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I cannot sing. I'll weep, and word it with thee,
For notes of sorrow out of tune are worse
Than priests and fanes that lie.
- William Shakespeare, Cymbeline
Not a great Shakespeare play. It has a few good lines and seems to follow the path cut by earlier jealousy plays like The Winter's Tale and Othello. I think, if grouped with these two, it is the runt of the jealous litter. My favorite quote about this play (or this point in Shakespeare's life) comes from Lytton Strachey, who said it is "difficult to resist the conclusion that he [Shakespeare] was getting bored himself. Bored with people, bored with real life, bored with drama, bored, in fact, with everything except poetry and poetical dreams.". I tend to agree. This seems a bit dashed off. A bit loose and ended a bit too happy. While I don't need everyone to die, like in Hamlet, I prefer my Shakespeare endings to be complex, uneven, human. The deaths in this play still seemed to contain very little drama to them. And to be sure, the IDEA of the play was an interesting one. I think if Shakespeare had written this earlier in his life, or if he had more energy toward the end of his life, this might have been able to achieve something between Winter's Tale and Othello.
One note, I might have even given it only 2-stars, but Act IV, Scene 2 is amazing. Belarius has some great lines, and the funeral song is amazing (I'm normally not a fan of Shakespeare's songs, but this one was amazing).
- I am glad I was up so late, for that's the reason I was up so early. (Act 2, Scene 3)
- The game is up (Act 3, Scene 3)
- Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust. (Act 4, Scene 2)
- The ground that gave them first has them again,
Their pleasures here are past, so is the pain. (Act 4, Scene 2)
- Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered. (Act 4, Scene 3)
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
This is a really good performance of a difficult and confusing play. Well done to all the actors. I would happily recommend it with one serious reservation; this production contains some of the worst music I have ever come across. At the beginning of each new scene you will be assaulted with lumbering recorders, seesawing violins, and flatulating horns playing utter nonsense on two bar loops. The musical settings of Shakespeare's songs are also horrible and actually make the text incomprehensible at one point. Beware - this music is so bad and there is so much of it that you may actually begin to feel fear towards the end of each scene, as I did, knowing that more of it is coming. How did this happen?
2 of 2 people found this review helpful