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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Cymbeline - Act III

Cymbeline
Act III

Make pastime with us a day or two, or longer; if you seek us afterwards in other terms, you shall find us in our salt-water girdle; if you beat us out of it, it is yours; if you fall in the adventure, our crows shall fare the better for you; and there’s an end.

Something of a marathon, this Act III. As it opens it seems the Romans are about to declare war on Cymbeline, though I haven't ascertained why. Maybe it's just because they're Romans. Imogen receives a sharply worded letter from Posthumus and misinterprets it, since she’s keen to ride out and meet him. Next up, we’re introduced to Belarius, who was banished by Cymbeline and who has lived in the mountains since then, along with Cymbeline’s two sons, whom he kidnapped when they were young.

Posthumus’s servant shows Imogen a letter from his master ordering him to terminate her...with extreme prejudice. Pisanio is not keen to carry out the order but Imogen is distraught by the whole affair and encourages him to get on with it. Instead he cooks up a scheme whereby she’ll dress like a man – a favorite Shakespearian tactic, I’ve come to realize – and ingratiate herself with the Roman ambassador. For what reason, I’m not clear on.

Back at the palace they discover that Imogen is gone. Cloten finds out where and plots some nasty misdeeds to be perpetrated on her and Posthumus. Meanwhile, Imogen just happens to come across the mountain hideaway of Belarius and his two "sons." How's that for a coincidence?

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