Downtown Theater to Take a Chance on Celebrated ‘Cymbeline’

Review at Arts Beat, New York Times

Review at Arts Beat, New York Times

Review at Arts Beat, New York Times

Commercial theater producers seeking to make money off Shakespeare usually stick to tried-and-true audience draws like “Hamlet” or “Macbeth,” but even those can be financially risky without a celebrity in the title role. (Last season’s critically acclaimed “Merchant of Venice,” starring Al Pacino, narrowly turned a profit.) Next month, however, a group of commercial producers will try to make a go of “Cymbeline,” one of Shakespeare’s trickier tragic romances — though with a staging that received strong notices fromcritics this winter.

Fiasco Theater’s highly inventive production, featuring six actors in 14 roles and an imaginative set that relied on just two crates, a sheet and a trunk serving many purposes, will begin an 18-week run on Aug. 27 at the Barrow Street Theater. The nonprofit Theater for a New Audience, which presented the earlier, noncommercial production of “Cymbeline,” is now undertaking the first commercial run of a Shakespeare play in an Off Broadway house in its 32-year history.

Its partners are three of the most successful Off Broadway commercial producers these days: Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian and Tom Wirtshafter, perhaps best known for their 19-month run of David Cromer’s version of “Our Town” at Barrow Street in 2009 and 2010.

Two of Fiasco Theater’s artistic directors, Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, are the play’s directors and are also among the cast of Fiasco company members. This “Cymbeline” first came to the attention of Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director of Theater for a New Audience, when he saw the production in a 70-seat loft space two years ago.