Year: 1997

Title of the play: Cymbeline

Author: William Shakespeare

Director: Adrian Noble

Others in the Cast: Joanna McCallum, Guy Henry, Joanne Pearce, Damian Lewis, Ian Hogg, Jo Stone-Fewings, Richard Cant. Full list here:  

Company/Event: Royal Shakespeare Company

Theatre and location: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon; Theatre Royal, Newcastleupon-Tyne; Theatre Royal, Plymouth

Other productions of the same play: 1998 - Barbican Theatre, London; Brooklyn Academy of Music; Opera House, New York

Plot summary: Posthumus marries King Cymbeline's daughter Imogen secretly and is banished. Iachimo, makes a bet with Posthumus that he can tempt Imogen into adultery. He cheats, sneaking into her bedroom and stealing a bracelet, which he offers Posthumus as proof. Posthumus orders Pisanio to murder Imogen, but he helps her escape, disguised as a boy. She befriends "Polydore" and "Cadwell" who, are really her own brothers, kidnapped 20 years ago.

Peth’s role: Cymbeline


When warriors face off in battle here, it is as samurai warriors. The servants in the court of Cymbeline (the busy Edward Petherbridge, also the star of the company's ''Krapp's Last Tape'') scurry about with the stooped stances and mincing postures of extras in ''The Mikado.'' Cymbeline's ambitious wife (Joanna McCallum), who unwisely goads her husband into war with Rome, plays duplicity like a souped-up seesaw, alternating between honeyed diplomacy and vicious eruptions of temper. And she looks like an Asian variation on the evil queen in Disney's ''Snow White,'' a foil to Mr. Petherbridge's subdued Cymbeline, who comes into his majesty only in the final scenes.  - Ben Brantley, NY Times June 5, 1998

Edward Petherbridge, as Cymbeline, is exactly right - a man who has long since lost his inner strength of purpose and authority but still bears all the outward dignity of kingship. - Birna Helgadottir, What's on stage, March 1998


... Edward Petherbridge as Cymbeline, long white robe, long white hair, long white face, a sort of priest-king, never seeming quite focused on the affair at hand, carried on his golden chair into battle like a sacred talisman, growing slowly in awareness and power in the final scene, from wide-eyed bewilderment to confident control - 'My peace we will begin'. - Shakespeare Performances in England

Monday 16 March: Shakespeare’s Cymbeline by the RSC at the Barbican. This was a much more satisfying evening than the RSC’s “Mysteries” two days ago. “Cymbeline” is one of Shakespeare’s plays that I have seen life only once before. There was a very strong Japanese influence on this production. The costumes were a mixture of Druidic, Japanese and Roman. The set was covered by a large sheet of cloth that could be raised, lowered or even walked through. The Italian scene was dominated by a large chessboard like area suggesting the gambling/game aspect of Italy. Edward Petherbridge did what he could with the title character, although not much was provided by Shakespeare. The final scene is the most complicated denouement anywhere in Shakespeare. Every time we thought the play was winding to a close some new revelation gets made. Stephen J. Teller, The London Theatre Guide 


Edward Petherbridge played the king curiously, as a detached and airy exquisite, bored and barely bothering to notice the proceedings. Clad in a monkish white robe, Mr. Petherbridge looked like the high priest in "Lost Horizon" and recalled, by his languid delivery, his Lord Peter Wimsey in the TV mysteries. The Wall Street Journal Online


Petherbridge's troubled, suffering Cymbeline affects us more than the part has any right to since it's only, as Petherbridge himself has remarked, Lear with all the good bits left out. - Lloyd Rose, The Washington Post, June 26, 1998 

Production details: Here

Related links: Video recording available here



Original pics here

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