YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Theater Review

Globe's 'Pericles' Is a Weird and Wild Ride

A mad jumbling of elements renders one of Shakespeare's final plays a fun if inconsistent observation on life.


SAN DIEGO--If the novelist John Irving, who likes to populate his works with dancing bears, mutilation scenes and other oddities and crudities, were to try his hand at Shakespeare, the result might look like the Old Globe Theatres production of "Pericles," which opened Saturday.

Except for the dancing bears it's all here: a jumble of plot lines, inconsistencies and improbabilities, and a good bit of fun, poignancy and pathos amid some sharp observations about life in the trenches.

A fisherman looks at some snared flotsam and remarks, "Here's a fish hung in the net like a poor man's right in the law." How true.

But anyone trying to find something larger, something cohesive, has a daunting task. Not for nothing has the Old Globe never before done "Pericles," one of Shakespeare's last plays.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Monday September 02, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 38 words Type of Material: Correction
Cast member--The name of a cast member was misspelled in some editions of today's Calendar section in a review of Old Globe Theatres' production of "Pericles." Anna Belknap plays the part of Marina.

Director Darko Tresnjak has given the play some tweaking and some sight-gag enhancements and done the bawdyhouse scene as comically X-rated as possible.

Wynn Harmon, as Pander the brothel-keeper, is dressed in fright wig, costume and makeup straight from Michael Keaton's title character in "Beetlejuice."

Tresnjak asks us to go with the flow of the play, which is funny and weird, if lacking in tension. It's difficult to care where these folks are going, but the ride is interesting.

The evening's labor begins with prince Pericles in flight to avoid the wrath of the King of Antioch. Pericles has figured out that the king and his daughter are engaging in merry incest.

Thus begins an odyssey of shipwrecks, attacks by pirates, encounters with nobles of other lands, a marriage, a birth, a shipboard death, some treachery, some loyalty and, when the plot stalls, some supernatural intervention.

As Gower the narrator, Ned Schmidtke is a charming mix of grace and goofiness. But in his epilogue, about all Gower can muster is a saw about virtue triumphant.

The part of Pericles is not much of a grabber but Michael James Reed soldiers on dutifully. Anna Belknap is a gem as Pericles' long-lost daughter, Marina, who is sent to a brothel but defends her virginity.

Charles Janasz is superb as the moral center of the play, the truth-telling Helicanus. And Dara Fisher is suitably slutty as the Bawd who tells Marina: "You are light into my hands, where you are like to live."

Careful viewers may remember that Pericles had referred to the king's daughter as "a fair glass of light."

Or maybe not, given all that seawater sloshing around.

"Pericles," written by William Shakespeare, plays at the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre, part of the Old Globe Theatres complex at Balboa Park, through Oct. 6. Tuesday-Sunday at 8 p.m. Tickets: $25-$50. Box office: (619) 239-2255. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes.

D'Vorah Bailey...Lady of Pentapolis

Anna Belknap...Marina

Andrew Borba...Cleon

Dara Fisher...Bawd/Diana

Wynn Harmon...Pander

Charles Janasz...Helicanus

Michael James Reed...Pericles

Ned Schmidtke...Gower

Emmelyn Thayer...Thaisa

Michele Vasquez...Daughter

Los Angeles Times Articles