Cymbeline – The Play I Knew Nothing About

I vaguely remember a director telling me this was their favorite of Shakespeare’s plays when I was little. Upon hearing my plan to see every Shakespeare play, my uncle warned “good luck with Cymbeline.” What was this mythical play? And who is Cymbeline, anyway?

The Shakespeare Challenge: Can I not start with Cymbeline?

I’ve had some trouble getting started with this project. There are so many plays, and it’s been hard to pick just one to start with.

I thought about starting with All’s Well that Ends Well, starting with the stages of man monologue (you know, “All the world’s a stage…“) for my birthday.

But it seemed like maybe I should start with something unknown, so I looked at the plays I’d really never heard of (Pericles is a play?).

I figured I was overthinking it, and considered starting reading something I did know, like Romeo and Juliet.

But then they discovered the bones of Richard the Third, and I thought I should do a timely play and glom on to world interest.

But every time I tried to start reading a play, something would stop me. I came back to the challenge of getting to know Cymbeline.

Do you know anything about Cymbeline?

Cymbeline Paris

First off, I thought Cymbeline was a girl’s name. False. This is about a king named Cymbeline. But I’m not the only one with this confusion. I googled it, and the top ranked sites for Cymbeline are for the Cymbeline (a designer) wedding dresses.

After I established that the full name of the play is “Cymbeline, King of Britain” (his gender is so clear with the complete title), I stumbled upon Ferretbrain’s podcast of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare: Cymbeline.”

The Ferretbrain podcast is hilarious. I can’t lie, while I was listening to the podcast, I was one of those awkward people walking alone, giggling awkwardly to myself. Thanks to the Ferretbrain commentary, I bit into the play calling Clotus “Stupidhead” and with the assumption that this was a crazy absurd play.

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