by William Shakespeare
Directed by Lesley Currier
Marin Shakespeare Company
Pericles is an interesting choice of closing productions for Marin Shakespeare’s 2018 summer season. Seldom mounted and of questionable authorship (some believe Shakespeare wrote about half of it), the play is based on the Greek legend of Apollonius of Tyre and his journey to foreign lands. While it does contain the required elements of Shakespeare’s major works (treachery, romance, mistaken identities), what’s missing is the beautiful verbiage we’re so accustomed.
Most agree that the play was a collaboration between Shakespeare and pamphleteer George Wilkins. It disappeared for almost two centuries until it was once gain produced in 1854. Berkeley Rep tackled the play in 2013 and there was a Trevor Nunn NYC production in 2016. It’s a journey tale including bouts a really bad luck and eventual survival.
The plot, told by the mythical story-teller Gower (a delightful spritely performance by Diane Wasnak), is convoluted at best, with our hero Pericles (Dameion Brown) tempting the fates, creating enemies, travelling to foreign lands and dealing with issues of sex trafficking, incest and perilous sea crossings. Director Lesley Currier works her magic with Brown and the fine ensemble cast, drawing what humor she can from the dark subject matter. There’s plenty of nifty fight choreography (Richard Pallaziol) and quirky costumes (Merissa Mann).
Once again, Dameion Brown (Othello) get a chance to shine in a lead role. A graduate of MSC’s prison program, Brown is a force to be reckoned with. Similar to Pericles, Brown is a survivor. After all the travails, Pericles believes in the motto on his shield – “In hope I live” and is reunited joyfully with his revived wife Thaisa (Kathryn Smith-McGlynn) and missing daughter Marina (Eliza Boivin).
Currier sneaks in some sharply barbed anti-Trump quips (a fisherman wears a “Make Pentapolis Great Again” t-shirt, there’s a reference to building a wall when Pericles washes up on shore, and a European allies joke) much to the audiences delight. When Pericles saves the country of Tarsus from drought and hunger, they’re fed with bags of Doritos and Fritos. Clever stuff.
The ensemble cast (Jackson Currier, Rod Gnapp, Elena Wright, Nick Mandracchia, Richard Pallaziol, Cathleen Riddley, Grace Brunson, Kate DeLong, Shelby Fenn. Maxwill Hauser, Maxwell Jaeger, Dale Leonhart, Julia Hewitt, Oliver Rubey and Lana Spring) all seem to having a ball in their multiple roles.
Pericles is doesn’t have the flair or gorgeous texts of Shakespeare’s better known works, but it does have the drama and action to keep one sustained. Pericles is about healing one’s personal wounds, surviving misfortune and has a redeeming conclusion – an encouraging philosophy in our current state of crisis.
Pericles continues through August 5th, 2018 at Forest Meadow Amphitheatre, 890 Belle Avenue, San Rafael. Tickets are available online at https://www.marinshakespeare.org/ or by calling 415-499-4488.
Photo credits by Jay Yamada.