Highly Recommended **** The works of William Shakespeare have been read and produced on stages for centuries. Most of us have our favorites and there are of course many plays that are seldom (if ever) produced. Such is the current production on the stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, “Pericles”. I bet most of you have never even heard about this fantastical tale. Our hero, Pericles, The Prince of Tyre ( played to perfection by Ben Carlson, making a return visit to CST, where he has given us “Hamlet” and “Macbeth” performances that will be recalled for years to come) who flees his land for fear of his life. He sets sail searching for safety and along the way he confronts villains, pirates, goddesses and kings.
Inn order to fulfill his desire to wed the daughter of King Antiochus (ably handled by Sean Fortunato), played by Eliza Palasz, who for some reason is never named in the play, he must solve a riddle. If not, he will have his head chopped off and displayed with the others in the courtyard. As he travels the seas, he stops at areas and there wins the hand of Thaisa ( Lisa Berry). They wed and are with child. As they sail, they run into a terrible storm. They are on the way back home as they have been advised that Antiochus and his daughter have died. During their journey home, in the storm, Thaisa dies while giving birth to Marina and is buried at sea (the tradition of the sailor). Instead of heading home, he brings his daughter to Cleon ,The Governor of Tarsus (Torey Hanson) and his wife Dionyza (Lia D. Mortensen).
The play then takes us into the future, some 16 years later, and Marina is now a grown woman (Christina Panfilio). We also know that Thaisa is not dead as her casket is opened when it hits shore and her life is spared. She knows not that her daughter is alive as well as Marina not knowing that her mother is indeed alive or indeed who her father is. As “Pericles” wins his rewards and is justly crowned, he learns that his family is in fact alive and intact. There is a glorious reunion and lets say, one of the happiest of endings in a Shakespeare play.
This production directed under the skillful eye of David H. Bell with a cast of fantastic players, such as Ora Jones, Ross Lehman, Kevin Gudahl, Marvin Quijada, Derrick Trumbly, the very comical Eric Parks, Dan Toot, Bri Sudia, Emma Ladji, Dion Johnstone, Brian Grey, Ryan Hallahan, Wesley Truman Daniel, Sharriese Y. Hamilton and Jed Feder (percussionist), many of whom play several parts as does Mr. Fortunato.
The stage has been redesigned to have trap doors and a section that is on a lift to become a balcony or higher level and the wall is worked with great projections (Aaron Rhyne). The original music by Henry marsh is fitting and the sound (James Savage) allows us to hear every poetic word that Shakespeare put on parchment. The costumes by Nan Cibula-Jenkins and The lighting by Jesse Klug are in fact the icing on the cake. One wonders why this marvelous tale is not regularly done, and I for one , am thankful that the staff at Chicago Shakespeare Theater chose to make this special play part of the season. It is worth the trip to Navy Pier! Carlson by the way is as strong as ever with a great understanding of the character he has been asked to bring to life. Also, Bell has added some choreography to the tale that is strong and keeps with the integrity of the epic tale we are seeing.
“Pericles” will continue at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier through January 18th with performances as follows:
Tuesdays,Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 and 6:30 p.m.
On Tuesday 12/23 there will also be a 1 p.m. performance.
As you can see, this is perfect for the holidays as Navy Pier has great dining spots as well.
Tickets range from $48-$78 and for patrons under 35, there are some $20 tickets. They also have 40% discount parking during this production in the Pier garage. To purchase your tickets an di would not hesitate to do so, call the box office at 312-595-5600 or visit www.chicagoshakes.com
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Pericles”