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I came to Cymbeline completely anew, knowing nothing of the story, apart from the slim nugget that it was a 'romance'. I wasn't sure I wanted to read it either, after all, it's hardly one of those Shakey plays that has entered the collective consciousness. But the OU made me, as is so often the case with my life.


King Cymbeline has a daughter Innogen who wants very much to marry Posthumus. In fact, she does secretly, much to Cymbeline's anger, and he banished Posthumus from the kingdom. Giacomo makes a bet with Posthumus that he will bed Innogen, after Posthumus's much boasted trust in his wife and English girls as a whole. Giacomo wins the bet - by nefarious means, and Post instucts Pisanio to kill Innogen. Pisanio, instead helps her disappear in Wales, disguised as a boy. Here she meets Belaruis and his two sons. Only, are they his sons?


There is much in this play to enable it to be called a political play or even to be included in the Roman plays. It's up to the reader to decide if the Innogen/Posthumus plot is a subplot to the refusal of Cymbeline and his quite evil wife to pay Rome its treaty, therefore sparking a feud. Or vice versa. Ever the romantic (!), I much prefered the Inn/Post plot. Especially how Post could go from marrying the angelic, virtuous Innogen -the Madonna, to wanting her dead - the whore, and back again.


The machinations of Giacomo make him a worthy villian, worthy of Iago-like notoriety. How he uses information to manipulate Posthumus is quite gripping.


I believe George Bernard Shaw didn't like this play too much, criticisms of Innogen aside, he believed that the last act and the Welsh brothers plot was boring and incredible. Not in a good way, either. I can't agree - I think it is fairly typical Shakespeare: myriad plots that all tie up in the end with a satisfying resolution.


I don't hold my chances well, but I'd love to see this forgotten and ignored play performed.

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...I'd love to see this forgotten and ignored play performed.
It's not exactly forgotten, Hazel, but it is indeed rarely performed. I saw a superb production in Stratford in 1997 - and there was an English-language production in Paris a couple of years back, which I unfortunately missed.


Have you been using the Oxford edition, given that you call the heroine "Innogen"? I've heard about the critical dispute, but I much prefer "Imogen".


Like Adrian, I must confess I'm not overkeen on referring to the venerable Bard as "Shakey"... :(

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I saw a superb production in Stratford in 1997
How did the production deal with the intervention of Jupiter?


Have you been using the Oxford edition, given that you call the heroine "Innogen"? I've heard about the critical dispute, but I much prefer "Imogen".
Norton edition, as ruled by the OU. 'Innogen' I am reliably informed was the wife of Brute, the ancient King of Britain, so was it really Imogen then? The Brute connection supports the view of Innogen as Britain.


I believe some editions also have Giacomo as Iachimo? I think Iachimo was modernized to Giacomo (Italian for James) in modern texts.


Like Adrian, I must confess I'm not overkeen on referring to the venerable Bard as "Shakey"... :(
Fellas, fellas, relax your sphincters. If it bothers you that much, I'll refer to him as Shakespeare from now on. ;)
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How did the production deal with the intervention of Jupiter?
As I remember, there was an enormous black guy in a halo of special effects. This was especially perplexing to the Americans sitting next to me, who had dutifully come along in order to (be able to say they'd been to) see some Shakespeare: "Oh wow, what was all that about then?" "Don't ask me! And who the hell was the big black guy?"
I believe some editions also have Giacomo as Iachimo?
My Arden edition has "Iachimo", yes...
Fellas, fellas, relax your sphincters. If it bothers you that much, I'll refer to him as Shakespeare from now on. ;)
Hazel, we weren't being anal... just respectful. :P
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  • 1 month later...

I'm going to be the poster who steals the 'e' and replaces it with an 'a' and will sew a tangent to this thread about Pink Floyd.


Shakespeare AND Pink Floyd, mind you!


"It's... High Time... Cymbaline...."


one of my favourite Floyd cover songs... so beautiful.



A lot of what Shakespeare composed was beautiful. I loved his humour.


Imagine a spectacle staged that toured the world that was Shakespeare interspersed with Floyd songs... how riveting! And bizarre!




(you've gotta youtube their performance of this song live at Pompeii - it's sweeeeet!)

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