Pericles, Prince of Tyre: In brief
After a three-week voyage through the boroughs, the Public's Mobile Shakespeare Unit drops anchor at home with a rare revival of one of the Bard's least coherent plays, a rollicking tale of treachery, virtue and seafaring adventure (often coattributed to ne'er-do-well George Wilkins). Rob Melrose directs.
Pericles, Prince of Tyre: Theater review by Adam Feldman
You may be forgiven for not even knowing, as most people don’t, that Shakespeare wrote a play called Pericles. Not only is this wildly irregular work almost never produced, but a wide academic consensus holds that the Bard penned only the second half of it, which seems obvious even to nonscholarly eyes. The first part is a frantic Aegean adventure tale of kings and riddles and wrecks at sea, perhaps better suited to a puppet show than to a stage; the second is a poetically rich sequence of scenes that strongly prefigures The Winter’s Tale. Despite some beautiful passages, Pericles is like a hybrid from Greek myth: the head of a noble lion grafted onto the body of a bucking donkey.
For those who wish to have seen the entire Shakespeare canon, however, this production by the Public’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit offers a fleet and enjoyable way to knock a rarity off the list. Rob Melrose’s economic in-the-round staging makes the most of a versatile, multiethnic cast of eight and imparts the sometimes confusing plot with clarity and vigor. The production begins in story-theater mode, but as the play goes along, and the Shakespeare kicks in, the colors grow deeper. For completists, the play’s famous reunion scene—between Pericles (Raffi Barsoumian) and his lost daughter, Marina (Flor de Liz Perez)—will be worth the modest price of admission, but equally persuasive is the preceding section, in which Marina (having been kidnapped by pirates) manages to maintain her maidenhead against the pressings of her madam (Amanda Quaid) and a powerful would-be john (Christopher Kelly). On the choppy sea of a difficult play, this sturdy little vessel stays on course.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE A lively cast and staging lift a potentially tiresome work.
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