The archive of Europe and UK's most-established open-air Shakespeare touring theatre company.

The energetic cast excel with their unanimously enthusiastic performances... This was Shakespeare in its purest form, yet cleverly made accessible to a modern audience.

(The Stage, 2007)

All the characters were well defined, even though each member of the cast had several roles to play.

(Isle of Wight County Press, 2007)

A top quality evening out

(blog from Lonan3, Isle of Man, 2007)

Artistic consistency over the years... Top-drawer Shakespeare.

(The Echo, Loughborough, 2007)

Theatre Set-Up gave a captivating interpretation at Castle Doowerth.

(De Gelderlander, The Netherlands, 2007)

Reviews of CYMBELINE 2009

Date reviewed 10 July 2009 by Anne Morley-Priestman at the Theatre Royal,Bury st Edmunds WOS rating ***

...Best of the performances are those of Emily Outred as Imogen, Tony Portacio as both Posthumus (Imogen's husband) and Cloten (her oafish step-brother and would-be spouse) and Richard Sanderson as the malevolent Iachimo and Polydore/Guiderius...

In the lengthy exchange between two of Cymbeline's courtiers which opens the play, Richard Plumley managed to sound both interesting and natural. And Elizabeth Arends made a neat and contrasting double performance as Pisanio, Posthumus' servant and Cadwal/Arviragus, the younger of the king's two abducted and disguised sons.

Who's who for any scene is conveyed through costume - terracotta for the Romans, green for the Celts - and wigs. Lots of wigs. The designers are Kim Jones, Evelyn Cousins and Andrew Fisher. I have a feeling that the production by artistic director Wendy Macphee and Portacio would have appeared to better effect out-of-doors - which is the norm for Theatre Set-Up - rather than in a conventional theatre.

Date reviewed 10th July 2009 by Mary Dunk, at the Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds


A play which moves between Ancient Rome, Britain, Wales involving caves, bedroom spies, a headless corpse, a diamond ring and stolen bracelet does not sound like straightforward viewing. It isn't. Eight actors tackle twenty-three roles vigorously in this production of Shakespeare's enigmatic play currently on European tour.

Audiences are supported by an astonishingly dense programme and scene-by scene commentary. The play, one of Shakespeare's last, is described as a comedy in the magical Celtic tradition, though the comedic strand is obscure to say the least. But there is the satisfaction of a happy ending where warring parties are reconciled, there is forgiveness all round and long-lost sons are reunited with their father.

Forgiveness is certainly a high priority. Posthumus (Tony Portacio) had to flee the British court early on having incurred the wrath of his father-in-law Cymbeline. He falls for an old trick when Iachimo (Richard Sanderson) bets him that his devoted wife Imogen (Emily Outred) can't be faithful, and a diamond ring is passed over. Inevitably this ends in tears, Iachimo sneaking into Imogen's bedroom half a continent away, and returning with her jewellery and a false report on her intimate details. Posthumus' predictable reaction nearly causes Imogen's death, but the day is saved. Meanwhile, on a nearby battlefield, Rome is invading Britain, and the man who kidnapped Cymbeline's infant sons has a change of heart. There is also room for the scheming stepmother with ambitious plans for the lazy son.

Emily Outred's outstanding Imogen gives this production a consistency and charm, while Elizabeth Arends is strong as her servant Helen. The moments of poetry, particularly the famous "Fear no more the heat of the sun" always redeem this mysterious play. Theatre Set-Up, under the artistic direction of Wendy Macphee, have done well to make this play accessible to a wider audience.

Date reviewed July 02 2009 by Jennifer Scott at Holme Pierrepont Hall, Nottingham

CYMBELINE is a big yappy mongrel of a play.

You spend much of it trying to work out how on earth it all pieces together but, come its upbeat, waggy-taled ending, you can't help loving it.

It is Shakespeare as farce - or rather a "best of" compilation album of all his other plays.

There are few great, intense soliloquies or emotion-racking characters. Instead you have a complex tangle of actions to follow, in which Cymbeline, the King of Celtic Britain, has banished the new husband of his daughter Imogen, who married against his wishes. Of course, he comes to realise the error of his ways but, along the way, we have doubling characters, girls dressing up as boys, long lost sons, faithful servants and, that old chestnut, sleep-inducing drugs that make your nearest and dearest assume you've snuffed it.

The programme for Theatre Set-Up's outdoor production at Holme Pierrepont Hall made much of the play's Celtic symbolism.

The performance, though was far from heavy-going. Characters bounded on to stage in an array of daft Sacha Baron Cohen wigs and laid-on-with-a trowel-accents. The result was a massively engaging and entertaining show that was quite perfect for its vol-au-vont eating audience. The battle scenes were a bit bewildering and the sound quality fluctuated at times. Yet the the talented cast, all Shakespeare old-hands, delivered their lovely lines with precision and managed the quite amazing feat of performing two or three characters apiece - sometimes in the same scene.

It rather makes you regret that CYMBELINE isn't performed outdoors more often.