Arizona Repertory Theatre is about to go where not many theaters have gone before: Shakespeare's "Cymbeline."
The play, which has romance along with a bit of tragedy, is among the Bard's last, and Shakespeare buffs will recognize some bits from earlier plays. You'll find star-crossed lovers (think "Romeo and Juliet"), manipulative servants (Iago in "Othello"), and cross-dressing characters determined to hide their identify (take your pick -Shakespeare did that a lot).
A large cast and a complex tale may be behind its rare production.
But that does not daunt the University of Arizona student actors nor their director, Brent Gibbs.
"Cymbeline" is about betrayal, power plays, love. Cymbeline is the king of Britain, and Imogen is his daughter. She is in love and secretly marries a poor commoner, Posthumus. Cymbeline is outraged and banishes Posthumus from the kingdom. The queen is enraged about the secret marriage because she wants her son Cloten (the king's stepson) to marry Imogene and take over the throne.
The questions include: Will Imogene and Posthumus reunite? Will the king's sons, whom he thought were long dead, come to the rescue? Does the queen get her due, and does the king forgive?
Oh, there's much more to this complex tale. And some pretty eloquent writing, too.
There are plenty of good reasons to see it. Here are four:
"Cymbeline" has tasty bad guys, including a treacherous queen who plots murder in order to make her son king of Britain, and a cad who makes a bet that he can seduce another man's wife, and then tricks him into believing he did.
Two armies tough it out in a battle for the right to rule the kingdom. Who doesn't love a good fight?
3. A fool.
And who doesn't love Shakespeare's fools? Cloten gives us a respite from all the treachery and warring. He is the queen's son and arrogant as they come. And we all know that, in the end, arrogance is a riot and satisfaction comes from having the arrogant get their comeuppance.
4. Happy ending
That doesn't always happen with Shakespeare's plays. But despite the tragedy in "Cymbeline," there is reason for rejoicing when the curtain falls.
If you go
• What: Arizona Repertory Theatre's production of "Cymbeline."
• By: William Shakespeare.
• Director: Brent Gibbs.
• When: Previews are 1:30 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Monday. Regular performances are 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (opening) and next Thursday. Continues through March 24.
• Where: Tornabene Theatre in the University of Arizona Fine Arts Complex, near North Park Avenue and East Speedway.
• Cost: $17 preview; $28 regular performances. Discounts available.
• Reservations/information: 621-1162 or tickets.arizona.edu
• Running time: 2 1/2 hours, with one intermission.