Cymbeline at Shakespeare Theatre
This month, Shakespeare Theatre tackles one of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedies. It’s not the ubiquitously staged Romeo and Juliet, but the rarely performed Cymbeline, a story where forgiveness and honesty are to be cherished, and the value of true friendship can never be underestimated. Considered one of Shakespeare’s earliest and most complex plays, Cymbeline is about “love, honor, fidelity, trust, and family,” says Gretchen Hall who plays Imogen, the daughter of King Cymbeline.
After Imogen and her childhood friend Posthumus are secretly married, the doomed lovers are instantly challenged by events beyond their control. Despite their best efforts to live happily ever after, the couple quickly learns that their love is not shared by their friends and family.
As with any good Shakespearean romantic tragedy, Cymbeline has its fair share of supporting players who do their best to keep the young married couple apart, including King Cymbeline. In a move that rivals most ill-intentioned in-laws, King Cymbeline banishes Imogen’s husband, Posthumus, from the country. Although Posthumus is a man of unquestionable integrity and morality, the King does not think he is good enough for his little princess.
“Imogen is Cymbeline’s daughter, his only heir and she rebels against his wishes for who he wants her to marry,” says Hall. “She is a strong woman, willing to put herself in danger for her love and she is unapologetic in her desires,” continues Hall. Rather than wait for her father to support her youthful nuptials, Imogen does everything she can to reunite with her husband which includes shedding her innocent veneer for a more devious demeanor.
“In the beginning, Imogen is very pure and her desires and thinking are very innocent. The more time she spends apart from her love, and the more treacherous her path becomes, her thinking becomes more frantic and erratic,” explains Hall.
As jealousy, cynicism and revenge overtake Imogen and Posthumus as well as those close to the couple, the romance of the couple is irretrievable compromised. With larger-than-life characters and penetrating psychology, Cymbeline has many surprising turns that keep audiences guessing.
Cymbeline runs from January 18 through March 6 at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW; 202-547-1122; www.shakespearetheatre.org.
Join On Tap for a young professionals night to see Cymbeline on February 9th. Just $20 for your ticket and a pre-show happy hour! www.shakespearetheatre.org for tickets.
Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s Owl Moon
Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s newest production, Owl Moon is the brainchild of newly-minted DC playwright Liz Maestri. “Owl Moon” is really an actor’s play. Kind of a dream come true. Great characters in extreme circumstances who all want something very very badly. It’s the sort of thing we live for,” says Marcus Kyd, who plays Owl, an animal spirit guide in Owl Moon.The story is about two couples lost in the woods: Shell and Salome are good friends who go to the woods to bury a bag in the snow. The other couple, Isaac and Lisa, are a formerly romantic couple. Despite Isaac’s attempts to move on from his relationship, Lisa makes a vein attempt to rekindle romance with Isaac. “These already combustible couples meet and all hell breaks loose,” says Kyd.
Directed by Taffety Punk Theatre Company member Lise Bruneau, Owl Moon is a thoughtful and jaw-dropping examination of love and loneliness.
This is Taffety Punk’s first production of a Liz Maestri play. “Liz has been with the punks for close to three years now. She brought Owl Moon out for us to read out loud a little over a year ago – just as an experiment – and we were blown away. That’s a good gauge for me in weighing production possibilities, if the artists are excited, particularly one of ours,” says Kyd.
Joining Kyd on stage are Tonya Beckman Ross, Kimberly Gilbert, Me, Joel David Santner, and Esther Williamson. And directed by Lise Bruneau. Nearly the entire Taffety Punk troupe is performing in “Owl Night.”
Tickets for all performances are priced at $10. Owl Moon runs February 4 through 26 at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, 545 7th St. SE, DC; 800-838-3006; www.tix.taffetypunk.com.
Arabian Nights at Arena Stage
Arabian Nights is a whimsical journey that will leave audiences enraptured. Written and directed by Tony-Award winner Mary Zimmerman, Arabian Nights is the story of a young girl in ancient Baghdad who hopes to gain her freedom from a despot by telling stories about love, humor and redemption. As the young girl weaves tales of hope and sympathy in stories about genies and jesters, she inches ever closer to avoiding a once certain road to execution. With its lush set design, gorgeous costumes, international cast and lyrical story, Arabian Nights is a pitch-perfect production that will remind audiences that simple storytelling remains the backbone of inspirational theater. Arabian Nights has an eclectic cast of performers, including Barzin Akhavan who stars as Harun Al-Rashid and David DeSantos who plays King Shahryar.
Arabian Nights runs through February 20 at Arena Stage, 1101 6th St. SW; 202-488-3300; www.arenastage.org.