The story of Pericles includes over two dozen characters (played by just 13 actors) in various settings on land and sea. Upon first contact with the play, it's a bit tricky to keep everyone straight, but aiding in that task is the narrator Gower (Armando Durán, a pleasant guide). He introduces each act and tells us a bit about the characters and setting. A lot of crazy stuff happens (anyone who criticizes soap operas for their outlandish stories of incest, people returning from the dead, and long-lost relatives, is obviously not familiar with Shakespeare - the master of such outlandishness). Suffice it to say that our hero Prince Pericles (an appealing Wayne T. Carr) takes to the sea, is shipwrecked, falls in love with the good Thaisa (Brooke Parks, who also impressively plays another character with a completely different voice and attitude), is separated from her and their daughter Marina (the lovely Jennie Greenberry), and is lost in despair. It's an odd combination of campy comedy, sweet romance, and devastating tragedy that doesn't fit into Shakespeare's usual dichotomy of everyone dies at the end or everyone gets married at the end.
The ensemble cast is impressive (I was particularly drawn to U. Jonathan Toppo anytime he was onstage in various guises), but I couldn't help wishing that a few local actors had been cast in some of the supporting roles. The recent production of The Cocoanuts was also a transplant from OSF and included many of that cast, but our local talent filled in many of the roles. It would have been nice to see a few familiar faces on stage along with the newcomers.
|the stormy sea (photo by Jenny Graham)|
Pericles continues through February 21, check it out for the first glimpse of the future of the Guthrie Theater.