Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

Pericles: Presented by Temple Theaters at Tomlinson Theater

Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

Pericles: Presented by Temple Theaters at Tomlinson Theater

Article excerpt


Presented by Temple Theaters at Tomlinson Theater, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. February 10-19, 2005. Directed by Peter Reynolds. Set by Daniel P. Boylen and Dirk Durossette. Costumes by Sam Fleming. Lighting by John Hoey. Sound by Jorge Cosneau. Choreography by Kathy Garrinella. With Austin Durant (Gower), Chancellor Dean (Pericles), Luigi Sottile (Helicanus), Matthew Lorenz (Cleon), Muronji C. Inman (Dionyza), Elizabeth Mugavero (Marina), Ted Powell (Simonides), Arnica Skulstad-Brown (Thaisa), Connor Carew, Cosimo Mariano, Elijah Metcalf (Gower's helpers), and others.

Pericles is a sprawling, hybrid work, featuring low comedy, high tragedy, a medieval chorus, an ancient Greek setting, six separate countries, leaps of years, and even multiple authorship. Given the complex nature of the play, it was wise of director Peter Reynolds to pick a dominant motif and tone and pare the play to fit, despite the simplification that resulted. While the production may not have deeply explored some of Pericles's darker themes, the performance was coherent, well acted and, perhaps most importantly, enjoyable.

The dominant motif of the production was the sea. A blue silkscreen seascape traversed the back of the stage and the sound of the sea played as the audience entered, and under many scenes. The setting was a simple thrust stage that projected over the lip of the actual stage, allowing cast members to come up close to the audience, as well as appear from beneath, as if coming up out of the waters. Stage left, a tree was draped in netting at times to represent a mast. Storm scenes were effectively represented by means of blue streamers waved around Pericles.

The costumes were color-coded, with each country dressed in a different color and, for the most part, these colors had connections to the sea as well. King Simonides, Thaisa, and Marina dressed in light blue, signifying their close connection to the life-giving sea (this is especially true of Marina, born in a storm, and Thaisa, mistakenly buried at sea and reborn out of it). Pericles and others of Tyre wore royal purple, while those of Tarsus wore dull sand-colored garments in the famine scene and then changed to vibrant (but also jealous) green. Cerimon (here played as a woman) and Diana's followers wore white, while Antiochus and his daughter complemented their incestuous relationship with red.

The comic tone and overtly theatrical nature of the production were signaled from the very first moment, when Gower, dressed as a fisherman, entered with three helpers. As he began his opening speech, the helpers busily unpacked props, completely drowning out repeated attempts by Gower to be heard until he stared them into submission. Ali four stayed on stage for the entire performance, bringing out props and changing scenery and occasionally entering the action. These three helpers also played the roles of the three fishermen who rescue Pericles after his first shipwreck, and then the roles of the knights in Thaisa's birthday tournament. The interruption of Marina's murder by pirates was signaled by Gower dashing on stage to announce "Enter pirates!" The play ended with Gower's escorting Diana offstage. These repeated interjections into the narrative emphasized the theatrical nature of the play and helped maintain a consistent focus for the audience.

In comic scenes, Reynolds added visual jokes, such as the giant phallus that Bolt carried around, or the stuffed fish worn on the heads of all the knights at the tournament, and even serious and moving scenes had laughs: during the famine scene, when Cleon described how husbands and wives would draw lots to determine who will eat whom, Dionyza gave him a look that clearly indicated she would make sure to win such a lottery. …

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