Senator Elizabeth Warren and the rest of the Opening NIght Audience at Shakespeare & Co.’s production of Cymbeline didn’t have to fill the suggestion box labeled “Tell Us Why You LIke Shakespeare” in the lobby of the Tina Packer Playhouse. They answered that question with their many standing ovations for the 9 actors and director Tina Packer at the conclusion of a magnificent and energetic performance of the complex plot driven play by Shakespeare. There are a lot of exciting things going on at Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox MA. and artistic director Allyn Burrows in his toast at the jubilant after party stated “first to the unknown and to the road ahead”!
For Tina Packer, who first envisioned the Company forty years ago, this anniversary season also celebrates her completion of Shakespeare’s canon. After directing Cymbeline for the first time this season she will have directed the entire canon.
“When you work on Shakespeare’s plays as a director, you get to see the underpinnings of his thinking,” said Packer. “By finishing the canon, I feel that I have all the plays mapped out now, and it allows me to look at the whole of his work— I can follow the development of his thought patterns.” Packer notes that Cymbeline “echoes pieces from every other play, so I’m glad I know all the others before I begin.
“Cymbeline is a play about redemption,” said Packer. “It has a lot of comedy in it because you can’t really have redemption unless you laugh a lot. Laughter is the tool of making everything right again. But the play also has a lot of tragedy in it, passion and anger. It’s based very loosely in historical truth, very loosely, so it is a history play too; in all, a comedy, a tragedy and a history — it’s all those things.”
Cymbeline bears the wondrous language of the seasoned playwright through wild plot twists, mistaken identities, and a heart-rending quest for love. Packer’s production features Tamara Hickey and Jonathan Epstein of last summer’s The Merchant of Venice, along with Jason Asprey, Thomas Brazzle, Nigel Gore, Deaon Griffin-Pressley, Ella Loudon, Josh Aaron McCabe, and Bella Merlin. All the actors play multiple roles—rarely leaving the stage. The creative team includes Kris Stone (Set Design), Deb Sullivan (Lighting Design), Tyler Kinney (Costume Design) and David Reiffel (Sound Design).
“Imogen, played by Tamara Hickey, is the moral center of the play,” said Packer. “She’s one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines. She stands up to her father, is not deceived by her wicked step-mother, stands by her husband through all his short sighted wagers, finds another family, resists the seducer’s charms, and generally does her sex proud! Cymbeline, the play’s namesake, played by Jonathan Epstein, anchors the play as the King and hold the pieces together. If you’ve never come to Shakespeare & Company before this is a fantastic play to come out for. We have some of the real veterans of the company in this show and it’s a rich play that in the end reflects our life back to us.”
Cymbeline run on the Mainstage of the Tina Packer Playhouse through August 6th
(For another article by Stephen & complete photos of this opening night go to Broadwayworld.com)
(Another article & complete photos on Broadwayworld.com)