Pericles – January 2007

Experience: 3/10

By William Shakespeare

Directed by Dominic Cooke

Venue: Swan Theatre

Date: Thursday 4th January 2007

What a difference from our previous experience! These seats were central, but they were in the back row of the upper gallery, and our view of the action in the first half was severely limited. Fortunately, having seen it before, we could at least fill in some of the details for ourselves, and the modern pentathlon was still mostly visible. But had we been sitting here when we first came, we probably wouldn’t have rated this production, and might not have wanted to see it again. This layout seems to be creating serious problems for the audience, or not, depending on your position.

I still enjoyed the second half, however, as most of the action takes place in the middle. In fact, we probably had a better view of the scene where Marina and Pericles meet. I was certainly very moved by all that section, through to the rediscovery of Thaisa. Shame about the first half.

I thought one piece of action was new. When Lysimachus, the governor of Mitylene enters the bawdy house, he “chested” Boult a few times. Neither Steve nor I remember this from the first performance we saw. I was unsure whether some of Gower’s gestures had changed – perhaps we were just seeing them more clearly than before. Otherwise, it seemed much the same, and I found myself wondering whether the changing nature of the promenaders made it less likely the actors’ performances themselves would develop so much over the run.

With the talk from this afternoon still fresh in my mind, I was more aware of the introduction of Marina. I knew they were using the same actress to play both Antiochus’ daughter and Pericles’ daughter, echoing the abandonment and actual/potential incest, although again I felt the risk of incest between Marina and Pericles was non-existent in this production. I was watching when the actress came on to represent Marina, still a baby, and to do her crying for her, and I got a sense of the spirit of Antiochus’ daughter returning to haunt Pericles. Do right by this one to clear your debt to me, sort of thing. I wondered how those who didn’t know the play took this staging, and whether it confused them. I also found myself wondering how close the coast of Ephesus was to Tarsus, and whether Thaisa’s coffin could have realistically floated there in the time. Get a grip woman, it’s only a play, and a fantasy play at that!

© 2007 Sheila Evans at

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