By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Pericles, Prince of Tyre also would seem to be a joint-writing project. History tells us that William Shakespeare probably wrote half the play as one of his later projects, while his associate George Wilkins probably wrote the other half. Others may have been involved, too, but textual analysis is little help here: The existing text of the 1607 romance was assembled largely from actors recalling their lines after the production.
This play, too, is an homage to the irrational, unless you believe that a woman presumed dead after giving birth on a ship can be restored to life after being sealed and pitched overboard in a water-proof coffin. You also have to believe that the orphaned infant would grow up to be such a beauty that her jealous caretaker would hire an assassin to dispatch her. And that, at the moment of the contracted hit, a band of pirates would drop in from the sky to steal the beauty away to a distant brothel. There are events that seem surprising but somehow conform to the logic of a dream, and then there's this — the Jacobean equivalent of a B romance-adventure flick.
It's also an opportunity for gleeful stage pageantry and spectacle, a melodrama unmatched by 90 percent of the offerings currently playing in the city.
3352 E. Foothill Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91107
3301 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Category: Community Venues
Region: Mid-Wilshire/ Hancock Park
Presented by Pasadena's A Noise Within, this is the first production of the troupe's "Lost and Found" season — Pericles winds up in despair having lost his beloved wife and daughter to death and corruption, only to joyously reunite with them decades later. The preview suggests that Julia Rodriguez-Elliott's production has all the hallmarks of being a riveting, visually gorgeous carnival.
Jeanine A. Ringer's set serves up a wooden backdrop consisting of drawers and doors that slip open when silks or props are needed. Angela Balogh Calin's elegant color-coordinated costumes include Elizabethan collars, each resembling the air filter for a '68 Buick; black bowler hats; and white silks, which the ensemble dons for tautly choreographed "dumb shows" that help explain the plot. Robert Oriol's sound design punctuates the fantasia with drums and orchestral riffs, lending the production its cinematic flair. The pirates haul young Pericles' (Jason Dechert) netting-ensconced daughter, Marina (Jules Wilcox), into the sky. There's a jousting scene with actors and puppet horses and Ken Merckx's fight choreography that is the theater's answer to a Mel Gibson extravaganza.
A week before opening, the performances were on target, starting with Deborah Strang's narrator, Gower. With Strang's lucid expiations in iambic tetrameter, there's no way you can lose a single plot thread.
Regal Thomas Tofel portrays child-molesting King Antiochus, whose wrath against Pericles after the youth reveals the perv's secret sends young Pericles out of town on his picaresque adventures. In a pleasing twist of double casting, Tofel returns as the elder Pericles, as honorable a sire as Antiochus is corrupt.
If The Miss Julie Dream Project urges us to look inward to comprehend lunacy, Pericles does quite the opposite, trafficking in the art of romantic diversion. Still, both wrestle with the world's perversity through the logic of dreams, and it's those images from each production that linger long after the lights go down.
PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE | By William Shakespeare and possibly George Wilkins | A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena | in repertory, call for schedule; through Nov. 24 | (626) 356-3100 | anoisewithin.org
THE MISS JULIE DREAM PROJECT | By Meghan Brown, Samm Hill, J. Holtham, Abbe Levine, Michelle Meyers, Tira Palmquist, Emily Brauer Rogers, Brenda Varda, initiated and conceived by Kyle T. Wilson | Fell Swoop Playwrights and Son of Semele, 3301 Beverly Blvd., L.A. | Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; through Sept. 15 | (213) 351-3507 | sonofsemele.org
Update: The sound design for Pericles, Prince of Tyre is by Robert Oriol.The sound design was initially referred to as "uncredited."