Premiere issue Autumn 2002

'Pericles' a grand adventure in Globe's hands

Written by William Shakespeare
Produced by The Globe Theatres

Lowell Davies Festival Theatre
The Globe Theatres complex
Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif.
Through Oct. 6

See profile of "Pericles."

For its first-ever production of Shakespeare's "Pericles," San Diego's Globe Theatres has gone all-out, creating as grand a show as has ever graced Balboa Park.

The stately set and regal costumes turn the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre into a timeless slice of classical Europe. The marble columns and stairs evoke Greek and Roman traditions; the costumes take in everything from Egypt to ancient mysticism.

Director Darko Tresnjak has introduced several clever schemes to simulate action off-stage — the sails of a boat just over the horizon, the sound of knights jousting, the tops of storm-whipped waves at the shore. All work well and add to keeping the focus on the story rather than getting bogged down in details.

The cast is wonderful: Ned Schmidtke sets the mood of high grace as Gower, the narrator. He exudes the same wizened gravitas that Richard Harris and Ian McKellen have brought to the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films.

Pericles final sceneJoanna Glushak plays Dionyza to nasty villainous perfection, immersing herself fully into the role and making the character believably evil.

Wynn Harmon gets to go from playing the avuncular Simonides, kindly king of Pentapolis, to the depraved Pander, a brothel-keeper of no morals whatsoever — switching gears easily and fully. Dara Fisher may have an even greater breadth in her dual portrayal of the goddess Diana and the brothel-keeper's wife.

Angela Belknap is stellar as Pericles' once-lost daughter, Marina — lovely and regal and able to hold the audience's attention whenever she's on stage.

Then there's the role of Pericles himself — and Michael James Reed is more than able to hold this production together. From the young, exuberant prince out to win the love of a beautiful princess to the broken old man barely hanging on, Reed moves through the life of Pericles seamlessly, and his interactions with Belknap's Marina are aching.

But mostly there is Shakespeare at his entertaining best — and director Tresnjak is smart enough to leave the Bard's words alone. "Pericles" was one of Shakespeare's last works, and if there is debate among scholars over how much of "Pericles" Shakespeare actually wrote, there is none over the fact that it is one of the most accessible of his plays. The storyline is clear, the dialogue more modern than some of his other works, and the characters deliciously drawn.

The high tragedy of Pericles' Job-like travails is countered by frequent comedic episodes, and the quickly changing scenes and populous cast predates the modern TV sitcom by nearly four centuries.

For whatever reasons, "Pericles" is only rarely produced today — the Globe's version is a visual spectacle with solid acting and a firm sense of Shakespeare's presence throughout.

Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif.

Autumn 2002 Theater Section | Autumn 2002 Main Page
Current Theater Section | Current Home Page