Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review of Pericles at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Pericles. The director was David H. Bell and it was written by William Shakespeare. It was about a man named Pericles (Ben Carlson) who went to a land to marry a woman (Eliza Palasz) but then that woman was romantically involved with her father (Sean Fortunato), and then the father was angry that Pericles had found out their secret. Then he sends people to kill him, so Pericles goes to far off lands so they can't get him. And when he is in those far off lands he saves a city from starvation, he gets shipwrecked, and then he meets the love of his life Thaisa (Lisa Berry). And just when you think everything is going well, something terrible happens, but I don't want to give that away. This show was about love, adventure, and loyalty. I thought this was a really really fun show. It was sad, funny, exciting, and suspenseful.

Pericles and Thaisa were two of the greatest characters that I've ever seen. They were so perfect for each other. They talked about the same things and they loved each other. They were just the perfect couple to have in the show. I really loved the scene where Simonides (Kevin Gudahl), Thaisa's father, was talking about how he was completely against this marriage, when he was actually really for it. What he did is he would say, "I'm completely against this marriage. I can't even believe she loves you." Then he would look out at the audience and say "I'm totally for this. I'm so excited!" And it was just so funny because it was just pretty obvious that he didn't actually want them to not get married. His giggling showed everyone that he was super excited for the marriage." We knew Pericles and Thaisa were in love because they would also have those looking-out-to-the-audience moments. They would say like, "Well he's fine." And then they look to the side and say, "He's so handsome. I love him!" And the other people wouldn't even freeze, so it seemed like everyone could hear her and knew her true feelings about Pericles.

I really liked the dance. I thought it was very creative and not like your usual Shakespeare dance, like a jig of some sort. I really liked how there were drums (percussion by Jed Feder & Dan Toot) in the background and people doing basically a handkerchief dance. I thought it was a really fun moment. The dance shows you they are carefree in Simonides' kingdom. That is cool because Pericles can do anything he wants here. He can dance, he can sing, he can marry the person he loves. He can just be happy and you think he deserves that because he has been shipwrecked, he found out a dark secret, and nothing has been going his way lately.

I really liked the scene where Cerimon (Ross Lehman) brought Thaisa back to life. He was really nonsensical, but I love nonsensical things so I was not annoyed by this at all. He would make potions that would basically bring people back to life, but then they were sort of cheesy because they would use this burning coal and move the smoke around on her to bring her back to life. But then it does work, so you are like, "Woah. How did that work?" And then when she woke up, he was basically comforting her and his way of comforting was pretty funny and it was also very sweet because he had basically just met this woman, but he was like, "I shall save you from dying!" This actor was also really funny as a fisherman because the fisherman is also a pretty odd character and he played it very well in the way that when he was comforting Pericles and his friend (Derrick Trumbly) would come over and start patting Pericles all over, he was just like, "No." That was funny because he was basically the boss but then when other people comforted like he did, he would say they weren't doing a good job!

The daughter of Pericles and Thaisa was named Marina (Cristina Panfilio). I liked this character because she seemed powerful and most young and beautiful characters in Shakespeare don't seem very powerful. I thought she was powerful because she fought against the pirates when they "rescued" her. Wait. I know you are probably thinking, "Wait. Pirates?" But that is not a typo. There are actually pirates in the show. There was also a Snow White element to this which I thought was very awesome. When they started the second act, I thought, "This is like Snow White!" There was an evil foster mother who is jealous of her foster daughter's beauty, so she wants her boyfriend to go kill Marina. But instead of being saved by dwarves, Marina is saved by pirates. But then the pirates aren't great to her. They send her to a brothel. Marina's other kind of power is that she can just say, "I don't want to be here, and so can you leave me alone and give me some money?" and the men who have come to the brothel would always do what she said. That is a great kind of power to have. She can help people feel better and can say, "That's not a great decision to make. You should change your mind."

This play teaches you about loyalty in the way that the people act. Helicanus (Dion Johnstone) was very true and loyal to his king Pericles because people said, "Why don't you just become king?" But then he doesn't want to do that. And when Pericles is going crazy he treats him like a best friend would treat their friend if they were going completely insane. Lychorida (Ora Jones) was the nurse of Thaisa who came along with her on the boat and helped her give birth to her baby. But then once Thaisa is dead she doesn't have a mistress anymore but she has a new little mistress Marina who she helps grow up to be a beautiful and smart young woman. These are people who stay loyal to whoever they are working for, no matter what.

People who would like this show are people who like looking out to the audience to say the exact opposite of what you just said, handkerchief dances, and pirates. I think people should definitely go see this show. I didn't know that a so little-known Shakespeare play could be so much fun!

Photos: Liz Lauren

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