I've seen the play a few times, sadly it's rarely performed, since the first time with Ben Kingsley and Judi Dench at the Old Vic. This was a very hard act to follow, I must admit. However, Greg Doran's production is a triumph, and a fitting end to his role of Director at the RSC.
Cymbeline is a long and complex play, but this production was captivating and clear. The play is full of knotted poetry and a plot so convoluted that some productions add an onstage narrator. We really didn't need this to understand the action on the stage.
Doran's production is divided into three sections. In The Wager, the exiled Posthumus accepts in Italy a creepy challenge that his England-held wife Imogen will not succumb to an attempted seduction by nobleman Iachimo. The second section, Wales, features the sex bet’s consequences, comic and gruesome, around a Milford Haven cave. The War somehow coheres the bizarre last six scenes where, through human confusion or divine intervention identities flip and the “dead” wed.
What a wonderful experience. The actors were all fantastic, with stand out performances from all the main protagonists. I would really struggle to single out one performance.
The Guardian's review is very interesting, contrasting the action of Cymbeline with the recent coronation of Charles III, and says "if the new King comes to see his RSC in this, he will, after the uneasy dysfunctional family stuff, enjoy Cymbeline’s prediction of a Britain that will “flourish in peace and plenty”, although only after European reunion".