Pericles

For all its tempting plot goodies -- incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder -- "Pericles" is not one of Shakespeare's better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer's "The Odyssey" with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a storyteller named Gower.

With:
Pericles - Robertson Dean
Antiochus/Bolt - Richard Soto
Marina - Julia Coffey
Thaisa/Diana - Emily Heebner
Thaliard/Lysimachus - Mitchell McLean
Helicanus/Simonides/Leonine/Pander - Mark Bramhill
Escanes/Lychorida - Denise Tarr
Cleon/Bawd - Michael Nehring
Dionyza/Cerimon - Jenna Cole

For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a storyteller named Gower. As a kickoff to its 11th season, the award-winning Glendale-based classical theater company A Noise Within has risen to the challenge, mounting a superlative production of this flawed work, helmed with remarkable imagination and insight by co-artistic director Art Manke.

Staged on Michael C. Smith’s almost bare platform setting, a nine-member ensemble whirls through the often repetitious plot, highlighting perfectly the salient moments in the angst-filled journeys of Pericles (Robertson Dean), Prince of Tyre. Manke has wisely done away with the character of Gower, utilizing his fast-stepping cast to hurl the needed narrative facts at the audience as they flee on and off the stage.

Dean’s remarkably strong performance anchors the production from the moment youthful Pericles arrives at the court of King Antiochus (Richard Soto) to seek the hand of the ruler’s daughter. Pericles’ Homeric odyssey begins when he has to flee for his life.

Pericles’ nightmarish years of travel are briefly punctuated by his happy marriage to Thaisa (Emily Heebner), the daughter of jovial King Simonides (Mark Bramhill), and the birth of his daughter Marina. The courtship of Thaisa is one of the highlights of the production, enhanced by Manke’s colorful, comical and testosterone-driven courting dance.

Dean is admirably supported by a remarkable cast that moves in and out of disparate personas as easily as they change the simple but effective cloaks provided by costumer Alex Jaeger. Michael Nehring is particularly successful as weak-willed King Cleon, who cannot stand up to his jealous wife Dionyza (played to the cold-blooded hilt by Jenna Cole) when she plots the death of Marina (Julia Coffey).

Coffey offers a glowing portrayal as the magnificently virtuous Marina, who literally talks her way out of every dire situation she faces, including her attempted murder and the loss of her maidenhood when she is sold into prostitution.

The production is enhanced by the new age-sounding pre-recorded score by Norman L. Berman and complemented by the evocative lighting of Don Guy.

Pericles

A Noise Within, Glendale; 180 seats; $38 top

Production: A Noise Within presentation of the play in two acts by William Shakespeare, directed and choreographed by Art Manke.

Creative: Sets, Michael C. Smith; lights, Don Guy; original music, Norman L. Berman. Opened and reviewed Oct. 12, 2001; closes Dec. 2. Running time: 2 HOURS.

Cast: Pericles - Robertson Dean
Antiochus/Bolt - Richard Soto
Marina - Julia Coffey
Thaisa/Diana - Emily Heebner
Thaliard/Lysimachus - Mitchell McLean
Helicanus/Simonides/Leonine/Pander - Mark Bramhill
Escanes/Lychorida - Denise Tarr
Cleon/Bawd - Michael Nehring
Dionyza/Cerimon - Jenna Cole
Ensemble: Megan Goodchild, Steve Kim

More Legit

  • The Twilight Zone review

    London Theater Review: 'The Twilight Zone'

    For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a […]

  • HadestownNew York Theatre WorkshopBy Anaïs MitchellDeveloped

    Streaming to Broadway: How New Titles, Talent Grow Buzz Online

    For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a […]

  • Chrissy Metz

    Chrissy Metz to Star in Neil LaBute's 'Fat Pig' at Geffen Playhouse

    For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a […]

  • 'Death Becomes Her' Musical in Development

    'Death Becomes Her' Musical in Development for Kristin Chenoweth

    For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a […]

  • Stagecraft podcast John Leguizamo

    Stagecraft Podcast: John Leguizamo Says He's a 'True Ghetto Nerd'

    For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a […]

  • The Go-Go's

    Go-Go's Musical 'Head Over Heels,' Produced by Gwyneth Paltrow, Targets Broadway for 2018-19

    For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a […]

  • Farinelli and the King Broadway

    Broadway Box Office: 'Farinelli and the King' Makes Royal Debut

    For all its tempting plot goodies — incest, prostitution, shipwrecks, attempted murder — “Pericles” is not one of Shakespeare’s better works. The story of the great Greek warrior reads more like a bad ripoff of Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the insufferable suffering of Job thrown in, further hindered by a ponderous ongoing narration by a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content