Along comes prince Pericles who not only solves the riddle and answers it openly and honestly, but also manages to escape before Antiochus’s men can find him. Pericles heads out to sea and is the sole survivor of the tempest that wreaks his ship.
He is found on a distant shore and discloses his identity to the king of the land Simonides. Once Pericles regains his strength he jousts for the hand of Simonides’s lovely daughter Thaisa. Pericles wins and he and Thaisa are married and soon expecting a child.
The child is soon to arrive when Pericles receives word that his kingdom is now heirless and his rightful throne will be forfeit unless he returns immediately. He bundles up his wife and they set sail. During the voyage Thaisa gives birth to their daughter Marina, but dies soon after. Thaisa is placed in a wooden box and set to sea.
During the tempest the ship lands in Tharsus where Pericles leaves his daughter to be raised by governor Cleon and his wife Dionyza. Marina grows in to a beauty and overshadows the governor’s daughter so Dionyza has her killed. Pericles eventually returns and is devastated when he hears the tragic news.
This is only a snapshot of a very intricate play. There is more. Much more. It’s almost impossible to summarize in a reasonable number of words, and much more challenging to condense into a two-hour play. This leads us to the director of Pericles, Lois Anderson. Anderson takes a very convoluted play, infuses it with humour, ingenuity, and some wicked choreography, and takes us on a journey where imagination is the key to unlocking the mystery.
The play jumps around a bit, chronologically, and is missing a character or two but who cares. It works, and it works on a grand scale. Anderson’s rendition of Pericles will take you by surprise, in the most amazing way. It may take a couple of minutes to connect to the director’s intensions but when you do, you’re in for a flavourful treat. Carmen Alatorre’s costume design, Malcolm Dow’s incredible sound design that plays like a character on its own, and the dedication of the amazing cast all make this an extraordinary experience. Jeff Gladstone’s performance is worth the price of admission, subtle and understated.
Pericles is a visual event best experienced facing the stage, up high, for the full effect. Regardless, it is sure to please the adventurous and if you are a dreamer like most, you might discover an open door to a more rounded understanding of the Bard.
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