For its 29th season, a local theater company will present a tale of innocence and jealousy.
William Shakespeare’s “Cymbeline” will be staged by Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and July 24-27 in the main pavilion at Stackhouse Park in Westmont.
The troupe will perform the five-act play for the first time.
“I believe that it has only been done four times in the United States,” said director Laura Gordon.
“It’s choosing what we don’t know and learning that keeps things fresh.
“For me, that’s really important. This was on my Bard list.”
She said taking on a play that’s rarely performed brought about anxiety.
“I got a hold of people who did it in Massachusetts and Oregon and said I was a little nervous about it and wondered why people were afraid of it, and they said to just do it honestly,” Gordon said.
“I began studying the text and cutting it, making it more accessible in length.”
She said the story has all the elements of a fairy tale.
“It has the lovers who escape, who fall apart and come back together; the wicked stepmother, who probably murdered the first wife; there’s poison; a physician; a soothsayer; and ghosts,” Gordon said.
In an original twist, the play will be narrated by a grandfather, who will read the story to his granddaughter.
“It also will cue the audience as to what’s happening if they’re feeling a little lost,” Gordon said.
The plot centers on Cymbeline, who is the king of Britain.
He marries a wicked queen, who has an arrogant son named Cloten.
Cymbeline arranges the marriage of his daughter, Imogen, to Cloten, but she defies him and marries the poor, but worthy, Posthumus Leonatus.
Cymbeline banishes Posthumus to Rome, but before he goes, Imogen gives him a ring and he gives her a bracelet.
Several plot lines follow, involving disguises, mistaken identity, deceit, treachery and poison.
The villain, Iachimo, bets a large sum of money against Postumus’ ring that he can seduce Imogen.
In the end, Iachimo confesses to his misdemeanors, the characters reveal themselves, all the misunderstandings are resolved and the lovers are reunited.
Gordon said the play features a dynamic cast.
“About half of the cast is new, but that’s what we’ve always been as an institute,” she said.
Don Evanisko, who is performing in his fifth play, will portray Cymbeline.
“The king gets a lot of things wrong, but fortunately it gets turned around in the end and doesn’t end in a blood bath,” he said.
“This is my third king in five years, so the trick is to find something that separates this king from the others that I’ve played. I’m trying to play this one a little older and less calculating because he does allow himself to be deceived, so you have to find a way to carry that in front of the audience.”
The wicked queen will be played by Kate Davis, who is performing in her sixth play.
“The queen is one of Shakespeare’s stock characters. I’m there to be evil and don’t even have a name, but she definitely wants what’s best for her son and her position,” she said.
Madison Eppley will perform the part of Imogen.
“Imogen is one of the few strong, independent women characters in Shakespeare, so it’s exciting,” she said.
“She is courageous and isn’t afraid of taking care of business herself.”
Muneer Al Basaidi will make his debut with the troupe in the role of Posthumus Leonatus.
“He’s very noble in the sense of his characteristics, but he’s also like a teenager who just got his first love and then lost it and felt cheated on,” he said.
“Even though he has this anger, he still clings to it after what he thinks is his revenge.
“He clings to Imogen to the end. Characters I’ve played before were authoritative, so it’s a good challenge to play someone who gets weak or sad.”
Costuming for the play has a fairy tale feel.
“We can jump around in periods and we have a lot of costumes,” Gordon said.
“We try hard to make the costumes a standard piece of excellence in all of our productions.”
She added that the goal of Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company is to educate the actors and the audiences.
“Tell me somewhere else where you can come and see something like this in this environment,” Gordon said.
“People should come and bring their children and learn something.”
A free limousine shuttle provided by AmeriServ Financial will be available to transport guests from Westmont Hilltop Elementary School, 827 Diamond Blvd., to and from the play site.
Food will be available for purchase.
Attendees are urged to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.
A blanket area for the audience will be reserved in front.
“There is no fourth wall in the Band of Brothers Shakespeare Company. The actors come in through the audiences and talk to them. The audiences just love it,” Gordon said.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, seniors and military.
They are available in advance online at www.bandofbrothersshakespeare.org.