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Tragedy meets comedy in Maryland Entertainment Group's 'Cymbeline'

Tragedy meets comedy in Maryland Entertainment Group's 'Cymbeline'

The obscure Shakespeare play "Cymbeline," which deals with themes of innocence and jealousy was considered a tragedy to 16th-century audiences.

This weekend, members of Maryland Entertainment Group brings the production to University Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., in downtown Hagerstown, for their fourth annual free Shakespeare in the Park event.

Actress Anne Hunt, who play King Cymbeline's daughter Imogin, said the play is more of a comedy. 

"At the end, (the) coming together in the final scene, is filled with so much joy and you're going to love it," Hunt said prior to rehearsal Monday evening.  "It's going to be the event of the summer, as we like to call it."

Michael Heyser of Hagerstown plays Cymbeline, who Heyser said is not the most confident ruler. 

"He is quick to anger, he's a little gullible for a king, he can be taken by his queen and his court if he's not careful," he said.

Still, he has redeeming qualities.

"But he is, in the end, very much a family man. He loves his family," Heyser said of his character, who he said he can relate to. "I think sometimes I'm unsure of myself but I try to find the right answers and make the right decisions. And I'm also very devoted to my family," he said.

Jacob Waeyaert plays Imogin's husband, Posthumus, another guy who's not always sure of himself. 

"He's very confident in himself and he's very focused on one thing, and if that one thing gets messed up, its basically over for him," he said with a laugh. "There's a lot of self-doubt and self-conflict (for Posthumus) because he was so sure of himself in the beginning and then it got messed up and he's not so sure of himself anymore. He doesn't feel like he deserves to be sure of himself anymore until he get redeemed at the end."

At the other end of the theatrical spectrum is the macho Iachimo, played by Seth Thompson. 

"(Iachimo) is one of Shakespeare's villains," Thompson said. "He's a very interesting character because there's a lot of moving parts with Iachimo. He's not, in my mind, he's not all that villainous. He's definitely a guy, he's definitely got a lot of ego."

Thompson said he's having fun with the character of Iachimo. 

"When I was a younger man, I was a little more like Iachimo. I think I've grown out of a lot of that angst and stuff of that nature, but yeah, I see a little bit of Seth in Iachimo, which is nice because you can pull a little bit of yourself and put it on the stage. That always makes it a little bit more fun ... for me anyway," he said with a laugh.

In spite of its lack of notoriety, Thompson said "Cybmeline" has a tale to tell. 

"I would say the reason to come see it is yes, it's a lesser known Shakespeare show, but it's an awesome one. There's a great battle scene in it," he said.

Hunt agreed. 

"It's outdoors, it's fun. You can bring your family, you can bring a chair, you can bring a cooler of sodas and snacks and hang out with us and enjoy some fantastic theater, literature. Come see something that is full of joy," she said.

Heyser said that while the show can rest on its laurels, the cast is also superb.

 "There are actors in this cast that just amaze me at rehearsal. I would urge everyone to come see these performances, they are the characters ... and this play is one that very few of us have seen. There's more twists and turns than you can count, surprises and I think people would be very pleased and interested. If they come Friday, they may very well come again, I think," he said.

If you go ...

WHAT: Shakespeare in the Park presents "Cymbeline"
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, June 30 and Saturday July 1; 6 p.m. Sunday, July 2
WHERE: University Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., downtown Hagerstown. In case of rain, the show will be moved inside 
COST: Admission is free
CONTACT: Search for Maryland Entertainment Group on Facebook or go to www.marylandentertainmentgroup.org.
MORE: The show is appropriate for all ages.

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