In this beautifully clear and powerful production of one of Shakespeare's more densely plot-driven dramas, co-directors Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld chart an assured course through the play's madness, comedy and tragedy. Cymbeline's patchwork quilt of horror and hilarity boasts a Queen (Emily Young, a wonderfully vampy turn) who loathes and tries to murder her stepdaughter, Imogen (Jessie Austrian). Then there's sleazy lothario Iachimo (Steinfeld, strangely likable in spite of his scuzziness), who tries to seduce Imogen and then lies about it to her husband, Posthumus (Brody), when she rebuffs him. Also there are the two orphan boys who are unmasked as the long-lost heirs to the kingdom — and poor sap Cloten (an excellently bratty Andy Grotelueschen), who gets beheaded, even while he plots to rape Imogen. The production is playful and ferociously paced, while also being wonderfully articulate and accessible. Convoluted the story may be, but the engagingly adroit performances make it easy to follow and draw us in. And the show still manages to boast genuine dramatic surprises, as when the vile Cloten is beheaded: There's a jaw-dropping incident staged as a cunning magic trick that would make David Copperfield smile. Fiasco Theater at the Broad Stage, 1311 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica; Tues.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 2 p.m.; through Dec. 22. (310) 434-3200, thebroadstage.com/Cymbeline.
Thu., Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 15, 2 & 7:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 16, 2 p.m.; Tue., Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m.; Fri., Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.; Sat., Dec. 22, 2 & 7:30 p.m., 2012