NY Shakespeare Festival Creates a 'Pericles' Collage

PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYREPlay by William Shakespeare. Directed by Michael Greif. At the Public/Newman Theater through Dec. 22. AS staged by Michael Greif, "Pericles, Prince of Tyre" is nothing if not eclectic. Mr. Greif employs anachronisms, interpolations, and assorted gimmickry in an effort to make Shakespeare's complicated romance more accessible. The extent to which he has succeeded may mark the principal achievement of the New York Shakespeare Festival's revival of the seldom-produced romance. According to scholars, "Pericles" is not entirely the work of Shakespeare, though some authorities credit him with at least the first two acts. The tale is introduced by Gower (Don R. McManus), a medieval chorus, "To sing a song that old was sung .... " It is the prelude to Pericles' many and strange adventures. They begin when the Prince of Tyre narrowly escapes assassination after deciding not to compete for the hand of the incestuously compromised daughter of King Antiochus (Byron Jennings). Thereafter, Pericles undergoes perils by land and sea, betrayals, and close encounters of the melodramatic kind. The adventures involve his wife, Thaisa (Cordelia Gonzalez), who supposedly had perished at sea and a long-lost daughter Marina (Martha Plimpton). The production gains appreciably by the presence of Campbell Scott as the beleaguered but ultimately triumphant Pericles. Mr. Scott's intense and noble prince impresses as a man of courage and integrity, a generous spirit and a benefactor. Thaisa and Marina are vital elements in the unfoldment of the strange romance. They are admirably played by Ms. Plimpton, who outmaneuvers a pair of scheming brothel keepers, and by Ms. Gonzalez. The fine cast, some of whose members play multiple roles, includes Joseph Haj, Paul Butler, MacIntyre Dixon, Steve Mellor, Saundra McClain, Dan Moran, and Bobo Lewis. The diversions of the Greif revival, including Jill Jaffe's musical accompaniments and Mark Bennett's electronic aids, find their fullest expression in John Arnone's elaborate set design. Arranged around a shallow sandbox, the scenery is a mingling of grim symbols, projections, plasterboard cutouts, and mobile set pieces, with mixed-period costumes to match by Gabriel Berry - all brightly lighted by Frances Aronson.

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