The upcoming UC Davis production of William Shakespeare's Cymbeline is a rare chance to catch the Bard's comedic tale revolving around mismatched love. The Department of Theatre and Dance production is set to open with a preview performance Nov. 9, followed by performances Nov. 10-11 and Nov. 16-18, all at 8 p.m., with the closing performance set for 2 p.m. Nov. 19, all in Main Theatre.
Cymbeline features one of Shakespeare's most resourceful female characters, Innogen, who, in defiance of her father, King Cymbeline, secretly marries Posthumous, a commoner. The marriage is discovered and Posthumous is exiled, after which Innogen — disguised as a boy — ventures into the Welsh countryside in search of him. In the process of following these star-crossed lovers through intrigues, betrayals, deceptions and murder, the play uses three very different settings: the insular world of the British Court, the natural world of rural Wales and the world of Rome in the time of Augustus Caesar.
With a wicked stepmother suggestive of the evil queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and a poisoning that is more Sleeping Beauty than Romeo and Juliet, Cymbeline is typical of Shakespeare's later plays.
"Even though characters go through hugely painful transitions, they continue to live, whereas in the early plays, they die," said Cymbeline director Peter Lichtenfels, chair of the theatre and dance department.
Is the play a comedy or a tragedy? Lichtenfels said it is both, or perhaps neither. "It's heading towards tragedy and then finds a way of recouping itself and ending up as comedy."