I thought I was pretty okay when it comes to Shakespeare. Hamlet, check. The Tempest, check. Julius Caesar even, check.
So when I saw that Cymbeline was running at the Shakespeare Theater, I though, Oh, that’s nice. Who wrote that?
Shakespeare wrote it! You just can’t keep that guy down! He wrote it towards the end of his career, so Cymbeline has elements seemingly borrowed from a few other plays. It is and it isn’t a comedy, a tragedy, and a history, Shakespeare’s three varieties.
All this to say that yes, this play is wonderful. Just because it’s lesser known doesn’t mean it’s not all Shakespeare. That is, stolen babies, separated lovers, romantic misunderstandings, gender switcheroos, and miraculous interventions.
The story has elements of Othello and King Lear and The Tempest, but with a happy ending. Akiva Fox, the Shakespeare Theater’s Literary Associate, asks the audience to come to this play asking what if? What if every circumstance in those other plays were reconciled in time (before people start getting killed)?
As always, the Shakespeare Theater puts on an amazing production: there is water on the stage in rivers and rain, tai chi-esque battle scenes, and (don’t forget!) a Vespa. The play runs at the Lansburgh Theater, the smaller of its two venues, at 6th and F, just next door to Jaleo–where I recommend catching the happy hour pre-performance.
Cymbeline runs through March 6. You can get $15 rush tickets (normally $10-88) on Tuesday mornings by stopping by the box office at the Lansburgh or calling 202.547.1122.
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