Sunday, 20 December 2015

'Pericles' at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe

'Pericles' is one of those Shakespeare plays that I've never quite got round to, either seeing it or reading it, but it's on at the lovely candle-lit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at Shakespeare's Globe so it's a good opportunity to see it. It's one of those oddities that seems to have the first half written by another playwright and the second half written my Mr Shakespeare - and it shows. The quality of the writing - and the story-telling is vastly different and the second half is obviously better, and, let's face it, more interesting.

It's the picaresque tale of Pericles, the Prince of Tyre and his adventures, most of which seem to involve the sea and storms and shipwrecks. Pericles seems to be a nice enough bloke but he doesn't half get into some scrapes. He seeks the hand of a princess and when he discovers she's in an incestuous relationship with her dad the king he runs back to Tyre. From there he's advised to flee and get shipwrecked only to fall for another princess (it happens) who he wins and marries.  When she's heavily pregnant they decide that's the opportune time to head back to Tyre and she dies in childbirth, is buried at sea and the resultant daughter fostered to another king and queen.

The second half starts 16 years later and the baby has grown up into a virtuous young lady who is kidnapped and sold as a slave to a brothel but Pericles is told that she died. But she uses her wit to retain her virtue and is eventually brought on board yet another ship to try to cheer up an old man with her conversation. And that's when she learns that the old man is her father and Pericles learns that his daughter is alive. It's all rather convoluted and goes on a bit but it's nice to have finally seen it, and seen it at the Sam Wanamaker with candle all over.

I can't pretend it was one of my favourite plays of the year - the acting was solid but the material doesn't send it flying. James Garnon was good as Pericles and Jessica Baglow as fun as his daughter, Marina. I'm pleased to have seen it at last.  And here's the real Pericles...

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