Pericles by William Shakespeare
Reflections by GVPTA blogger Andrew Wade
As a play, the original Pericles is a house built on sand. Not so with this production.
Most historians believe that the first two acts of Pericles, The Prince of Tyre were penned by someone other than Shakespeare, and that someone was, to put it simply, not a phenomenal playwright. As such, though the final three acts were most likely written by the The Bard himself, the actual words of the play are not ranked along the best or most memorable in Shakespeare's canon.
All this makes Lois Anderson's direction and sculpting of Pericles even more impressive. Using welcome textual edits and scenic devices, Bard on the Beach's production takes the this metaphorical house and rebuilds it on firmer foundations. The original play's words may not spark the same connection with the depths of humanity that an audience might find in other works at Vanier Park, but thanks to expert dramaturgical and artistic decisions, with this production we have a construction well worth exploring.
For our prologuing character, we get an old magician (David Warburton) setting the tale and pulling us through it. He summons shadows of people, sets sparks into the air and concocts potions as he shares the story. Bedsheets become boats and horses, characters' lives become fairy tales, and the stage flows smoothly and subtly from scene to scene. Amir Ofek's impressive scenic design allows for kingdoms to rise up from sand and pottery, then later to collapse into dust once more.
This is not a show that is all production puffery or historical meandering but without substance. While Pericles admittedly often felt like a family reunion in need of an antagonist, whenever Kayla Deorksen took to the stage (as the Bawd) she picked up the show with an antagonistic, lively vivacity that kept the audience gripped to the present moment plights of these characters. Luisa Jojic, as Marina, also holds the audience's hearts close to her once the script allows her to take a larger part in the plot. And Kayvon Kelly helps the us not be too put off by the ever so Shakespearean doling out of marriages among near-strangers.
Despite all the original script's misgivings, Bard on the Beach's production of Pericles is a theatrical marvel sturdily built, and well worth your evening.
is on stage as part of the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival through September 18. Tickets and information are through bardonthebeach.org