THE ADVENTURES OF PERICLES by William Shakespeare, directed by Leon Rubin, with Jonathan Goad, Thom Marriott, Nazneen Contractor, Karen Ancheta, Anthony Malarky, Charles Azulay, Donald Carrier, Sarah McVie, Michael Therriault, Stephen Russell and Brigit Wilson. Presented by the Stratford Festival at the Festival Theatre. Runs in rep to October 31. $39.40-$94.47. 1-800-567-1600. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Somehow, between season brochure and staging, Stratford's production of Pericles became The Adventures Of Pericles . Was someone concerned that audiences wouldn't come to see one of the Bard's lesser-known works - its full name is actually Pericles Prince Of Tyre - and thought tarting up the title might help? No need to worry. In Leon Rubin 's thoughtful production and John Pennoyer 's gorgeous design, Pericles is one of the best shows at Stratford this season. The narrative follows the title character as he roams around the Mediterranean from one adventure - yes, they do happen - to another. Rubin and Pennoyer begin the action in the area of Greece but then move it eastward, with costumes suggesting the Middle East, Raj India, Bali, Korea and Japan.
All the visuals would be mere window dressing (see the company's The King And I for that kind of production) were the characters and narrative not believable. Jonathan Goad , a young actor who's been doing fine work regularly, brings to the title role an intensity, a clear sense of the text and a variety of emotional tones. As a man alternately blessed and cursed by fate, Goad holds together a sometimes rambling story with skill and power.
He's nicely supported by Karen Ancheta as Pericles's wife, Thaisa, and Nazneen Contractor as their daughter Marina, lost but restored to her father in one of Shakespeare's most beautiful recognition scenes.
There's lots of strength throughout the company, including Sarah McVie 's Bawd, Michael Therriault as her servant Boult and Thom Marriott as the narrator, Gower, here dusted white and butoh-inspired.
It's a pleasure to see the mainstage at Stratford filled with performers of colour who've been given a chance to act.