By William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Currier
• Cast and Production Staff
• Producer’s Perspective
• From the Playbill
• What the Critics Said
• Production Photos
Cast and Production Staff
The Characters in the Play
Cymbeline, King of the Britons – Paul Abbott
His Queen – Lee Fitzpatrick*
Imogen, King Cymbeline’s daughter – Stella Heath*
Posthumus, a poor orphan, raised by the King, loved by Imogen – Thomas Gorrebeeck*
Pisanio, Posthumus’ loyal servant – Jed Parsario
Cloten, son to the Queen – Thomas Gorrebeeck*
Cornelius, a Doctor at King Cymbeline’s court – Debi Durst
First Gentleman – Timothy Huls
Second Gentleman – Rory Keane
Gentlewomen – Annika Gullahorn, Zena Hinds, Rebecca Mellinger
Gentlewoman Violinist – Gabriela Schneider
Iachimo, a smarmy Italian – Davern Wright
Philario, another Italian – Zack Purdy
A Frenchman – Rafael Sebastian
Caius Lucius, Roman Consul – Glenn Havlan
Roman Captain – Xander Ritchey
Roman Soldiers – Carolyn Doyle, Isabelle Grimm
The Mountain Folk of Wales
Belarius – Rod Gnapp*
Guiderius, known as Polydore – Zack Purdy
Arviragus, known as Cadwal – Patrick St. John
A Goddess – Lee Fitzpatrick*
Mercury – Annika Gullahorn
Director – Robert Currier
Producer – Lesley Schisgall Currier
Costume Designer – Tammy Berlin
Dramaturg – Dr. Mary Ann Koory
Fight Director – Richard Pallaziol
Lighting Designer – Ellen Brooks
Properties and Set Decor Designer – Joel Eis
Set Designer – Jackson Currier
Sound Designer and Composer – Billie Cox
Stage Manager – Gillian Confair*
Assistant Stage Manager – Kelly Kassir
* Member, Actors Equity Association
Some people don’t think much of Cymbeline. I love this play. While often we love the way Shakespeare creates his great characters, laying open to us the twists and turns of the human heart, in this play we get little of that but so many twists and turns of story that it can be difficult to follow if not brought to life by a talented group of actors. Luckily, our production had that and more. Musical additions by composer Billie Cox, multi-level battles by Richard Pallaziol, and an irreverent staging by Artistic Director Robert Currier made this play a hit with audiences and critics alike.
One special treat for us was welcoming back to Forest Meadows actor Paul Abbott in the title role. Paul acted with the original Marin Shakespeare Festival, which played at Forest Meadows from 1967 to 1972. How delightful to have him back onstage in this new millennium reinterpreting one of Shakespeare’s timeless texts.
Act V of this play is one of my favorites: we are treated to unexpected surprises and revelations, and supernaturally sanctioned reunions full of grace.
From the Playbill
Cymbeline…just say the word out loud. It’s the most euphonous title in the Shakespeare canon, reserved for this late romance, which we have the pleasure of bringing to you tonight. Yes, it was the name of an ancient King of the Britons, back in the time of Augustus Caesar and the Roman occupation, but there were many other names Shakespeare could have chosen. He found one that rolls off the tongue, conjuring a sibilant symphony of sympathetic symbolism.
This seldom produced play, written by quill and candlelight around 1611 as Shakespare entered his own fifth act, is a convoluted fairy tale seemingly concocted of many of the earlier plays, and of the ingredients of Shakespeare’s unconscious: a confused head of family, true love interrupted, banishment, strong daughters, a stronger wife, children lost, lessons learned, and finally, redemption. Like the other late romances, it feels as if the playwright is mourning the separation from his family which his career required and grasping for reconciliation with the children he left behind as he comes to terms with his own mortality.
Imogen, King Cymbeline’s only daughter and heir apparent, is the star of the story. Like many of Shakespeare’s leading ladies, she wins our sympathy and admiration by following her heart with courage, intelligence, wit and daring. Just a few years from his final farewell with his own daughters, the late romances feel like the gift and blessing not found in Shakespeare’s actual legal will.
Shakespeare used music to help tell his story, and we have added even more, to this play whose very name is music itself.
Why is this play performed so rarely? Perhaps because it is one of the longest, and begs for cutting to appeal to a contemporary audience (our version is quite trimmed!) Perhaps because on paper its convoluted plot is hard to follow. Maybe directors fail to find the deep humor in this romantic comedy. We leave it for you to decide as we wend our way tunefully through the court and caves of ancient Britain.
– Robert Currier
The Story of CYMBELINE
When the play begins, Britain is a sad kingdom. King Cymbeline owes tribute to Rome, which has not been paid. His only daughter Imogen has secretly married a poor gentleman named Posthumus, an orphan raised by the King, which incenses the new Queen, who wishes Imogen to marry her son Cloten (so Cloten will inherit the kingdom). Twenty years ago the King’s only sons were stolen from their nursery and never seen again. Posthumus, banished from Britain, says a sad farewell to Imogen, who gives him a diamond ring while he gives her a bracelet. Cymbeline scolds his daughter. We meet Cloten and see why Imogen won’t marry him. Posthumus’s loyal servant Pisanio describes Posthumus’ sad departure to Italy. In Italy, Posthumus quarrels over whether Imogen is the most excellent and loyal of all women. An Italian, Iachimo, wagers he can seduce Imogen, and Posthumus bets his diamond ring. Back in Britain, the Queen buys a drug from Doctor Cornelius which she thinks is poison, but which Cornelius confides to us will merely “stupify the senses” but not kill. The Queen gives the potion to Pisanio to give to Imogen, telling him it is a healing medicine (if she can kill Imogen her son Cloten will be heir). When Iachimo arrives from Italy with news of Posthumus, Imogen welcomes him kindly. Iachimo – at first tongue-tied in Imogen’s presence – claims he pities her, saying Posthumus has been untrue, and urges her to revenge by taking pleasure with him. Imogen immediately calls Pisanio to take away Iachimo, who claims he was only testing her loyalty. She forgives him and agrees to keep his trunk of riches safe in her bedchamber that night.
That night, when Imogen falls asleep, Iachimo climbs out of the trunk, notes details of Imogen’s bedchamber and body, and steals her bracelet. Cloten, trying to woo Imogen, arranges a serenade. Caius Lucius arrives from Rome to demand the overdue tribute. Imogen tells Cloten that Posthumus’ least garment is dearer to her than him; while searching for her missing bracelet. Back in Italy, Iachimo convinces Posthumus he has been intimate with Imogen, claiming the diamond ring when he presents Imogen’s bracelet and describes a mole on her breast. Posthumus is distraught.
In Britain, Lucius reminds Cymbeline that the tribute won by Julius Caesar when he conquered Britain has not been paid. When Cloten and the Queen defy him, he threatens war, asking only for safe conduct to the port at Milford Haven. Pisanio receives a letter from Posthumus instructing him to lure Imogen away from the palace and murder her; the letter says Posthumus will meet her at Milford Haven.
Away in the country, Belarius and two youths emerge from their mountain cave to greet the day. The youths lament that they have had no chance to prove themselves at court or in war. Belarius recounts how Cymbeline was tricked into believing Belarius committed treason, and praises mountain life. He then confides to us that the youths are the two princes, whom he stole when Cymbeline unjustly banished him. Near Milford Haven, Pisanio shows Imogen Posthumus’ letter, but refuses to kill her, instead giving her men’s clothing and encouraging her to travel in disguise; he also gives her the Queen’s medicine. Cymbeline, preparing for war, wants to find Imogen. Cloten beats Pisanio, who tells him Imogen has fled towards Milford Haven. Cloten decides to dress in Posthumus’ clothes and go find Imogen. Dressed as a boy, tired and hungry, Imogen finds Belarius’ cave and the mountaineers welcome Imogen, who calls herself Fidele.
Cloten imagines having Imogen at his mercy. The mountaineers go off to hunt, leaving Imogen behind. Feeling sick, she takes the drug Pisanio gave her. Cloten meets the mountaineers and fights with the elder youth, who chops off his head. When the men find Imogen, seemingly dead, they lay her next to the headless body, and prepare a funeral. Imogen, awakening, sees the body wearing Posthumus’ clothes and believes her husband is dead. When Lucius finds her, he asks the “boy” to join the Roman army. Cymbeline leaves for war, which Belarius wants to avoid, but the youths insist on fighting.
A despairing Posthumus decides to fight for the Britons. Cymbeline is captured by the Romans, but saved by Posthumus and the mountain youths, who win the battle for Britain. Posthumus then decides to put Italian clothes on (probably the most confusing plot point!), and is imprisoned by the Britons. As he sleeps, he sees a wondrous vision. The Italian captives are brought to Cymbeline, who declares they will all be put to death. He hopes to find the soldier who helped save him. Cornelius tells the King the Queen is dead. Eventually, secrets are revealed, many are reunited, and peace is praised.
What the Critics Said
“Shakespeare’s brilliant but rarely-produced gem, Cymbeline, is receiving a wonderful new staging by the Marin Shakespeare Company (with a terrific new musical score by Billie Cox) that makes you wonder why this play is so rarely performed….the little-company-that-could…far and away the most programmatically adventurous in the Bay Area….Stella Heath brings the range and the stamina the part demands, along with an enormously sympathetic appeal. She is the glue that holds this production together…Thomas Gorrebeeck pulls off the theatrical tour-de-force of playing both the hero, Posthumus, and the antagonist, Cloten.”
Kurt Daw, Shakespeare’s Tribe
“Marin Shakespeare Company cast is having too much fun onstage for it not to spill over into the audience….Marin Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘Cymbeline’ is a delightful opportunity to enjoy a few hours with a group of actors doing all they can to milk the maximum entertainment value out of one of the Bard’s most ridiculous plays.”
Patrick Thomas, Talkin’ Broadway
“The Marin Shakespeare Company kicked off its 26th season with ‘Cymbeline.’ With the commendable risk of producing a play not widely known, the Marin Shakespeare Company delivered a production well worth seeing. From the beautifully designed costumes and live music, to the well-rehearsed cast, watching ‘Cymbeline’ in the outdoor Forest Meadows Amphitheatre makes for a joyous experience.”
Megan Guerrero, For All Events
“Stella Heath is a charming, radiant Imogen…Thomas Gorrebeeck is outstanding in the double role of Imogen’s beloved, banished husband, the noble but gullible Posthumus, and her nemesis, the Queen’s dull, vain, spoiled son Cloten…Some of composer Billie Cox’s songs work very well…”
Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
“Marin Shakespeare Company for their first of this season is presenting the Shakespeare’s rarely produced ‘Cymbeline.’ Director Robert Currier has taken the Bard’s complex tragicomedy and shaped it into a good-looking, exciting and highly theatrical fairy tale with music….exhilarating wild ride of a production…”
Richard Connema, For All Events
“This is one crazy play!”
David Templeton, North Bay Bohemian
” ‘Cymbeline’ Marin Shakespeare Company…Director Robert Currier has effectively trimmed the play…and still maintain its coherence, continuity and major and minor plot twists. The play is upbeat and never loses our interest thanks to the actors who maintain high energy throughout. Kudos to composer Billie Cox for her musical adaptations from Shakespeare’s lyrics as well as original compositions. Costume designer Tammy Brill deserves praise for her work in this production.”
Gaetana Caldwell-Smith, For All Events
“Marin Shakespeare Company’s current production of ‘Cymbeline’…solid cast…Imogen (a bright and effervescent Stella Heath)…Iachimo (an effectively smarmy Davern Wright)…particularly effective is (Thomas) Gorrebeeck’s portrayal of the Queen’s son as a belligerent buffoon with a Jagger swagger….some of the musical numbers are funny and others quite pleasant…a comic romp.”
Sam Hurwitt, Marin Independent Journal
“Marin Shakespeare’s ‘Cymbeline’ shines in it’s incomparable casting. Director Robert Currier has mined this play for comic gold, presenting it as a light hearted romance, caricaturing the evil characters, and augmenting musical aspects of the original text. Journey to Forest Meadows for a fairy tale adventure couched in Shakespeare’s transcendent language, with a stellar cast romping through early Brittania. Do not miss this seldom performed play; a captivating evening of humor and true love.”
Alexa Chipman, ImaginationLane.net
“Marin Shakespeare Company’s production of ‘Cymbeline‘… it’s an entertaining romp…There’s schtick (plenty of it), visual and verbal jokes of all kinds, interpolation of contemporary references, original songs by Billie Cox, a rock ’n’ roll dance number in which Thomas Gorrebeeck, (imitating Mick Jagger) brings the house down…”
Charles Brousse, Pacific Sun
“Director Robert Currier… make[s] this….a laugh riot….‘Cymbeline’ at Marin Shakespeare Company – damned good fun.”
Charles Kruger, TheatreStorm.com
“ ‘Cymbeline’ … presented by the Marin Shakespeare Company… is set to comic overtones, with music added to lighten the story and allow the actors to play.”
Gary Gonser – Member SFBATCC
” ‘Cymbeline’ is good fun. Robert Currier has supplied a supple cast and lively contingent of musicians, guided by sound designer Billie Cox, who also composed much of the music. As Imogen, Stella Heath’s lyrical singing voice enhances this production. Tammy Berlin’s costumes are a delight to the eye.”
Rosine Reynolds, The Ark