“Pericles, Prince of Tyre” is one of Shakespeare’s lesser known plays but it glitters in this polished production at A Noise Within.
Julia Rodriguez-Elliott directs this production with an assured hand and adds elements of music and dance. Jeanine A. Ringer’s scenic design that had a great wall of doors rising at the back of the stage seems ready made for a door-slamming comedy of errors. Yet “Pericles” is not a slapstick comedy. It’s as if Shakespeare had a black comedy in mind, but didn’t quite arrive at a good answer.
Prince Pericles (Jason Dechert) goes courting and that in itself is a dangerous endeavor. The king of this somber land of Antioch, Antiochus (Thomas Tofel), has concocted a riddle which should a suitor for his daughter’s hand fail to solve, forfeits his head. Antiochus seems pleased at these heady, gory ornaments but solving the riddle is just as fatal. Antiochus has taken his daughter to his bed.
Pericles must flee this evil court. Shipwrecked in Pentapolis, he joins a tournament hosted by the king Simonides (Michael Stone Forrest). Despite his humble rags, Pericles impresses his both the king and the king’s daughter.
Now married, Pericles sets sail for his home only to again meet misfortune at sea which results in his wife’s death after the birth of their daughter, Marina. Pericles leaves Marina to be raised by another who will betray his trust.
Eventually Pericles will be reunited with wife and daughter for a happy ending.
Each court it represented by different colors and clothing from post-Elizabethan times. There’s a bit of Victorian era influence here and there. The court of Pentapolis favors emerald green and the women wear long prom-ready dresses with long red opera gloves.
This production is fun and fashionably inspired. It might run a bit long, but with the synopsis in the program, a character map and a map that shows us both modern countries and the locations references in this play, the plot is crystal clear. Go see this colorful production of a modest Shakespearean gem.
“Pericles, Prince of Tyre” continues at A Noise Within until 24 Nov. A Noise Within is located at 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA. Call (626) 356-3100 or visit ANoiseWithin.org.