Aug 112012

Zorica and I love the theatre. We met Danny and Terry Gaisin a few years ago, hit it off, and decided to support the arts in a unique way. As time will allow, we write reviews for their on-line publication Ontario Arts Review. Enjoy…….

I always enjoy seeing the ‘popular Shakespeares’; “Twelfth Night”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, “Macbeth” etc. It’s fun to compare and contrast my memory of how the play was ‘done’ before, how much I enjoyed each, what was happening in my life at that time, who I attended the performance with, and what’s new this time around.

“Cymbeline” isn’t that kind of production-and if, like me, you hope to see all of Shakespeare’s works at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival before you shuffle off your own mortal coil-do make the investment to see “Cymbeline”. But come better prepared than I did; it’s probably the heaviest intellectual lifting I’ve had to do at the theatre in a long time and I would have benefitted from a little research. Ask one of your English major friends for a crash course prior to the show.

Shakespeare repeats many of the storylines from his other works, and I found that a bit….well, dull. Do we really need another lost child, disguise, and deception story? My answer would be cautiously no….perhaps that is why “Cymbeline” is performed infrequently. However, the main themes of transformation and tolerance-the world needs lots of this-are explored very well in this production, reminding us once again how very fortunate we are to have the Festival so close to home.

Costume design is striking and helps the audience remember who is aligned with whom. There’s a great fight scene, and an erie dream sequence that looks spectacular. So much can be done in such a small space at the Tom Patterson stage, and for director Antonio Cimolino, set designer Scott Penner, lighting designer Robert Thompson, fight director Tom Campbell, and in charge of movement, Sonia Norris, I say well done.

The acting is solid, if not spectacular. Tom McCamus as the leacherous Iachimo stands out and isn’t it great to have Graham Abbey back? Gerriant Wynn Davies does his best work at play’s end; his emotion moves all, especially fathers and their daughters. Unlike the Montagues and the Capulets, he does transform before it is too late and implores his subjects to both “forgive, and deal with others better.” Hear! Hear! Perhaps this work of Shakespeare should be performed more often indeed……..

“Cymbeline” is in repertory until September 30th at the Tom Patterson Theatre, Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Stratford Ontario.

Blair Zilkey is a realtor in Oakville, ON and merges his passions for both helping people and theatre by supporting Ontario Arts Review and penning reviews with his wife, Zorica. You can follow Blair’s weblog at


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