"Six actors and a fabulous trunk [designed by Jacques Roy] take on the 14 roles in one of William Shakespeare's wild and witty romances," according to producing partners Theatre for a New Audience (Jeffrey Horowitz, artistic director), Scott Morfee, Jean Doumanian and Tom Wirtshafter.
An 18-week engagement is planned. It was originally to launch at Barrow Street Aug. 27, but Hurricane Irene had other plans for the city, and producers decided to postpone for a few days.
Co-directed by Fiasco Theater's Noah Brody and Ben Steinfeld, Cymbeline's roles are performed by the original company: Jessie Austrian (Broadway's The Importance of Being Earnest), Paul L. Coffey, Andy Grotelueschen, Emily Young (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) and Brody and Steinfeld (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson).
Cymbeline "tells of a beautiful princess separated from her beloved, the cruel step-mother who tries to kill her, a credulous husband duped by an adversary, an exiled nobleman who kidnaps a king's sons and a Roman invasion of Britain," according to TFANA. "In this lightning-paced production, a plain white cloth becomes a sail, a bed sheet, and a toga and a 'fabulous' trunk becomes a bed, a throne and a cave. The transformations are magical and playful and true to the play, deepening its themes of illusion, deception and belief."
The music created by Fiasco for Cymbeline "contains some of Shakespeare's most haunting lyrics and sets Shakespeare's words to original compositions and traditional sources." Performed live by the company, "the music ranges from Renaissance madrigals to bluegrass and Appalachian folk tunes." TFANA's Horowitz, searching for the new generation of artists interpreting Shakespeare, saw the production in a 70-seat loft two years ago and has shepherded it along.
"We last produced Cymbeline in 2001 directed by Bartlett Sher," Horowitz said in a statement. "In the Fiasco production, I could see New York through a gritty window while on a bare stage with no production budget and sheer talent and commitment, the company brought the audience into the imaginary world of Shakespeare through the language. I immediately felt a kinship and invited the ensemble to engage with artists we know such as Cicely Berry, director of voice [at] Royal Shakespeare Company and Jean-Guy Lecat, a designer who worked with Peter Brook. I proposed that Theatre for a New Audience collaborate with Fiasco to take the essence of what they created in Cymbeline and develop a new production with new sets and costumes for a wider audience. That team led to an acclaimed sold-out engagement at The New Victory and now an extended commercial run for an even wider audience at the Barrow Street Theatre."
The creative team includes set designer Jean-Guy Lecat; costume designer Whitney Locher; lighting designer Tim Cryan; prop designer Caite Hevner; fight director Noah Brody; music director Ben Steinfeld; and vocal coach Cicely Berry.
John Schaefer of WNYC gave the music an hour of his "Soundcheck" program last winter. It can still be heard on the web.
Tickets are $75 and may be purchased by phone at (212) 868-4444; online by clicking www.smarttix.com or in person at the Barrow Street Theatre box office, Barrow Street (on the corner of Seventh Avenue, one block south of Christopher Street). The box office opens at 1 PM daily.
Visit BarrowStreetTheatre.com. Visit fiasco theater.com.