‘Cymbeline’ review: Six actors play 14 roles in fun and frisky Shakespeare play

Review at NY Daily News

Review at NY Daily News

Review at NY Daily News

Shakespeare's 'Cymbeline,' directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, stars Ben Steinfeld (l.) and Jessie Austrian (r.).

GERRY GOODSTEIN

Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline,’ directed by Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, stars Ben Steinfeld (l.) and Jessie Austrian (r.).

What’s in a name?

When it comes to the ­theater troupe called Fiasco, irony, pure and simple.

This scrappy and likable little ensemble’s bare-bones “Cymbeline” — one of Shakespeare‘s most overstuffed mashups — is as far as you can get from a fiasco.

It’s fresh and frisky and jammed with playful theatricality and music to match.

Simplicity and savvy emerge as hallmarks of this four-year-old company, whose six members are grads of Brown University and Trinity Rep’s MFA program.

The half-dozen actors portray 14 roles in “Cymbeline,” running now at the New Victory in a presentation by Theatre for a New Audience.
Except for a “fabulous trunk” (designed by Jacques Roy, and handy for a beheading scene) and a couple of boxes, the stage is bare.

The emphasis on the text and the cast is up to the task.

The twisty story, set mostly in Britain and Rome during the time of the Roman Empire, revolves around Imogen (Jessie Austrian) and Posthumus (Noah Brody), true-blue newlyweds who can’t catch a break.

King Cymbeline (Andy Grotelueschen), Imogen’s father, exiles Posthumus. His wife, the Queen (Emily Young), seeks to undo Imogen with a potion, while a scheming Roman soldier, Iachimo (Ben Steinfeld), lies to Posthumus about bedding his wife.

There’s more. Subplots arise as if from a “Best of the Bard” menu, and include long-lost sibs, a woman disguised as a man, rustics who are royals and a good servant, Pisanio (Paul L. Coffey), who ­reaffirms your faith in honesty.

The streamlined tale moves crisply and clearly, as directed by Brody and Steinfeld, co-founders of the troupe with Austrian.

Young and Steinfeld are probably the most familiar faces on stage — they just finished roles on Broadway in “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.” Picking a favorite in the cast was easy — it was whoever was speaking at that particular moment.

Besides being talented actors, they’re all terrific musicians who serve up pretty a cappella chorals, guitar-strumming ballads and a foot-stompin’ bluegrass ditty, washboard included.

The players even sing the pre-show message to turn off your cell phone, a tuneful curtain-raiser that might have inspired the Bard himself.

In this case, all’s well that starts well.

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