Review: Shakespeare at the George

Shakespeare at the George 2010 - Cymbeline King of Britain - showing at the George Hotel in Huntingdon until July 3. Tickets �12.50/�8.50 from 07716 993693.

THIS play is unfamiliar to many but it contains many hidden gems and it is greatly to the credit of the Shakespeare at the George Trust that it was chosen for their 2010 production.

Michael Williamson’s lucid production, dispensing with much of the unnecessary verbiage and focusing directly upon the two main themes, was a delight and, on a pleasantly balmy evening, it complemented the ancient ambience of the Jacobean galleried courtyard of the George Hotel perfectly.

The Company were of a high professional standard and the technical effects, particularly in the second half, were impressive. Among such a talented and experienced cast it seems rather unfair to single anybody out but Paul Silver, as the banished Lord Belarius, ably supported by Thomas Hebert and James Phillips as the lost princes, created a sub-plot that was as entertaining as it was, ultimately, very moving,. There were equally strong performances from Stephanie Hamer, as the deliciously evil queen, Neal Dench as her clottish son and Guy Marshall as the faithful Pisanio. The anti-hero, Iachimo, is always a difficult part to get right but Rob Barton provided a nicely judged mixture of charm, devilry and, ultimately, remorse.

Of course, the most demanding role in ‘Cymbeline’ is that of the Princess Innogen and it has been coveted and attempted with varying degrees of success by many significant actresses. Giovanna Ryan had the advantage of being the right age and looking and sounding exactly right. She soon had the total sympathy of the audience and was well matched by Alan Marston as her heroic lover, Posthumus.

With original musical accompaniment, attractive costumes and some fine sword fighting sequences, this fairytale concoction is an ideal midsummer night’s dream!