Pericles, Prince Of Tyre
Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Reviewed – 28th August 2019
“This production is fast paced and, whilst this is coupled with energetic performances, it does mean there is the danger of losing the gist of the plot at times”
This Jacobean play is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known pieces. Theatre company Idle Discourse have chosen Pericles as their current production, running for a short time at The Gatehouse Theatre, before heading to the Baroque Theatre at Zamek Valtice in the Czech Republic. In a nutshell, it’s a story of young Prince Pericles who flees the King of Antioch. This King is determined to kill Pericles as he finds out he has learnt of his incestuous affair with his daughter. Throw in stormy seas, characters such as a love interest, some villains and a long lost daughter and we have our, slightly mad, story.
As this is not a well-known Shakespeare play, with multiple characters coming in and out, it would be of benefit to research the plot of Pericles before seeing it. This production is fast paced and, whilst this is coupled with energetic performances, it does mean there is the danger of losing the gist of the plot at times.
The narrator of the play, Gower, is portrayed as a tourist visiting London. He finds a book, which he starts reading, before being immersed in the world of the play. He’s even involved in the action at certain points. This is a nice concept, framing the scenes well and providing added entertainment.
According to the director (Dan Dawes), the play has been given a “1970s twist”, although this isn’t hugely clear aside from a couple of small nods to the decade in one or two costumes and one particularly “hippy”-like character. The majority of the costumes suggest the play has been set in the modern day.
The eight performers (except narrator, Gower) all take on multiple roles throughout the play. The majority grab this opportunity with both hands, showing their versatility as actors and delivering some laugh-out-loud performances.
There’s no doubting the entertainment factor of this production. This is mainly down to the actors and their ability to engage the audience through comedy. It does feel a bit like you’re watching a pantomime throughout, but maybe that’s a good thing. The play is packed with many characters which it could be argued need to be larger than life in order to engage a modern audience in this lesser known Shakespeare piece.
Reviewed by Emily K Neal
Photography by Robert Vass
Pericles, Prince Of Tyre
Upstairs at the Gatehouse until 31st August
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