WITH the RSC about to start work with the 86 amateur groups taking part in its latest Open Stages project, this feels like a golden age for seeing Shakespeare shared and reimagined for all manner of audiences around the country.
And while that project will see the likes of Macbeth in a shopping centre, The Tempest in a quarry and the highly topical Richard III in Leicester Cathedral, there’s no shortage of creative work going on in our professional theatres.
The mention of Leicester is relevant in this instance for the company behind this remarkable take on Cymbeline is Phizzical, from the other end of the M69 to the Belgrade.
Renowned as a leading exponent of Asian theatre and with a commitment to engaging new audiences, Phizzical have breathed new life into one of Shakespeare’s lesser-performed plays by giving it a Bollywood twist.
Maybe an audience favourite like Macbeth would have given more certainty to the audience numbers as it prepares to go from Coventry out on a national tour but director Samir Bhamra has found a personal connection in the appealing plot of Cymbeline and delivered a production with some utterly memorable moments.
The obvious Bollywood touches are a delight and the frenetic end that ensures we get the whole story in little over two hours, has a delightful air of fringe about it but at other times, it’s a little too ordinary and needs to be a little more daring.
That said, in the fringe spirit, the cast of six play many roles and do a fine job, with Sophie Khan Levy, a delight as Innojaan and a name to remember - and Tony Hasnath superbly energetic in his four personalities.
At The Belgrade until Saturday 21st September and then on tour.
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