Old Ottawa South Community Association

Megan Carty.
Megan Carty. Photo by E. Crowder.

Cymbeline, Shakespeare’s Exuberantly Oddball Masterpiece, Plays Old Ottawa South

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Set out a lawn chair or a blanket as Bear & Co. brings you a summer outdoor touring production of Shakespeare’s ridiculously over-the-top Cymbeline. Follow a pair of lovers as they react to the mad world around them in a 90-minute version of the play Shakespeare packed with every plot device he could think of: star-crossed lovers, a wicked stepmother, a befuddled king, a loyal servant, separated siblings, wild men, exiled kin, cross-dressing, kidnapping, murder plots, and a Roman invasion.

“The first time I read Cymbeline, I developed the irreverent but perhaps not altogether inaccurate idea that Shakespeare must have been up against a deadline, madly drawing on tropes he knew to be successful and linking them together in a way that made the best sense possible,” says director Sharon King-Campell. “It quickly became my favourite of Shakespeare’s works.”

A Canterbury High School grad, King-Campbell now lives and works in Newfoundland. She returns to Ottawa twice this season, first to direct Cymbeline, and then to assistant direct (with NAC English Theatre artistic director Jillian Keiley) when Between Breaths hits the stage at the NAC.

Cymbeline’s cast of six actors tackles its 40-odd characters full-on or in composite. Megan Carty (recently at the NAC in Up to Low) plays the heart-breaking and redoubtable heroine Imogen, while Ian Campbell (recently artistic director of Shakespeare by the Sea in St. John’s) plays the hero, Posthumous Leonatus. William Beddoe’s multiple roles include King Cymbeline, while Rebecca Benson’s include his wicked second wife. Phillip Merriman (last summer’s Romeo) doubles as her unlovely son Cloten and the fascinating Italian lover Jachimo. Ellen Manchee is both the gruff but kindly loyal servant, and the invading Roman army!

Join us outdoors to celebrate the long evenings and warm weather and enjoy theatre that stands the test of time. Bear & Co. brings you an experience close to the touring companies of four hundred years ago. Bring a cool drink or a full picnic, rain gear in case it mizzles, and bug spray, and watch six actors conjure the deliciously weird world of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline in the open air.

The show tours Ottawa’s parks — check the website www.bearandcompany.ca to confirm locations. There will be two shows in Windsor Park, July 11th and 25th, both at 7:00 pm.

Originally published in the July/August 2018 OSCAR. 

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