Pericles, prince of plays

Nov. 15, 2003, midnight | By Erica Hartmann | 20 years, 7 months ago

For whatever reason, the Greats (meaning all those old dead guys you read in English class) are not always that great. Somewhere along the way the meaning gets lost, the language disguises what may once have been entertaining, the message befuddled in complex syntax. But English teachers are not lying when they say writers like Shakespeare were indeed great, and for proof look no further than Blair's production of Pericles.

Perhaps the best, most innovative, part of the play is Gower, the narrator, played by seniors Jojo Ruf, Maryam Benganga, Priscilla Mulumba and Katie Aboudou. They have an almost spooky aura about them, and their performances inspire trills of trepidation. Spelling out the story piece by piece, they provide a campfire story mood, enrapturing the audience.

Though the plot is multifaceted and difficult, it is made clear by an impressive cast led by junior John Visclosky as Pericles. Visclosky's outstanding stature is matched only by an equal character, resonating dignity, solemnity, joy and any multitude of emotions.

Almost as impressive are the main supporting actresses junior Tanu Suri as Pericles' daughter Marina and senior Lindsay Hocker as Pericles' wife Thaisa. Even when the scenes turn dark, as they often do, and the characters are wracked with distress, the actresses shine beautifully and have great chemistry.

Despite the serious moments, the play does not lack gaiety. It includes some rather intricate dances, the best of which doubles as a hauntingly beautiful love scene. Throughout, the play is decorated with fun musical selections including several live hammer dulcimer pieces.

Pericles is not limited to tragedy and love, though. It is peppered with glinting swords and breathtaking storms. The fight scenes are truly awesome, providing just the right spice to keep the play light and lively. The storm scene is marvelously convincing, but some of the plot is drowned in confusion.

The set is fixed, but it proves marvelously versatile, changing fairly seamlessly into any number of different places, with a little help from some well-placed details. The entire stage is very well used. Actors deliver soliloquies on an extension that makes their speeches that much more personal, and action takes place on so many different levels that
the audience is constantly engaged.

Pericles is sure to provide an evening of enjoyment and instill an understanding of how enrapturing Shakespeare really can be.

Show dates are November 14, 15, 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Blair auditorium.

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