Cymbeline

Cymbeline

Category
Play
Number of Acts:
5 Acts
First Produced:
1611
Genres
Drama
Settings
Multiple Settings
Time & Place
ancient britain
Cast Size
large
Licensor:
None/royalty-free
Ideal For
professional theatre, outdoor theatre, high schools
Casting Notes:
Mostly male cast
Includes young adult, adult, mature adult characters

Synopsis

One of Shakespeare’s last plays, and one of his few genre-bending romances, Cymbeline contains story elements and themes from many familiar tragedies, including his own. Considered one of Shakespeare’s greatest heroines, Imogen is the daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, who falls in love and secretly marries Posthumus Leonatus, a lowborn Lord of the Court. King Cymbeline disapproves of the marriage and angrily banishes Posthumus, who flees to Italy. Imogen, loyal to her husband, rebuffs advances from her oafish stepbrother, Cloten, and from a devious Italian, Iachimo, who, unbeknownst to her, has made a wager with Posthumus that he can seduce her. Posthumus believes Iachimo’s lies and orders his servant, Pisanio, to murder Imogen. Pisanio, however, dresses Imogen as a boy, and she escapes into the forest. Imogen, now “Fidele,” takes up with a man and his two sons, who had been banished many years ago by Cymbeline. As inner battles rage, a larger war comes to Britain, and Roman forces invade, counting both “Fidele” and Posthumus in their ranks. In one of Shakespeare’s most complex final acts, hidden identities are revealed, two brothers are reunited with their sister, and the lovers, forced apart by lies and mistrust, come together once again. Cymbeline has the makings of a great tragedy, but concludes with joy, reconciliation, and forgiveness: as Cymbeline himself proclaims, “Pardon’s the word to all.”


Characters

Male

Lead

Spoken

Female

Lead

Spoken

Male

Supporting

Spoken



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