Pericles, Pince of Tyre | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Pericles, Pince of Tyre 

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PERICLES, Prince of Tyre, Greasy Joan & Company, at Facets Multimedia International Performance Studio. Shakespeare's late romance breathlessly and with only fitful eloquence charts the misadventures of the young and very embattled prince of Tyre. But unlike the similarly themed Cymbeline and The Winter's Tale, there's little magic or urgency in this 1608 potboiler; understandably, it was not published in Shakespeare's lifetime. In fact scholars argue that he did no more than contribute to what seems a hastily written commissioned script.

After clashing with an incestuous tyrant, Pericles sets out on an aimless journey during which he endures starvation, shipwreck, and the loss of his wife and daughter, only to regain them in one of those miracle-recognition scenes that the mature Shakespeare found irresistible. Not designed for excessive thought, Pericles is best managed as a fairy tale or wild dream, as Bailiwick Repertory did vigorously in 1987 and Shakespeare Repertory raucously in 1992.

Greasy Joan's robust revival, adapted and directed by Gavin Witt, is a supple ensemble effort packed with athletic battles and stylized combat. Rightly, it concentrates on storytelling (truth telling would be impossible). The ensemble treat each absurdity with an astonishment that endears and even convinces. Robert McDonough makes an intrepid if reactive Pericles, Amy Matheny strenuously emotes as his wife, and as Pericles' incredibly virtuous daughter, Joanne Underwood conveys the sort of invincible integrity equalled only by Isabella in Measure for Measure.

--Lawrence Bommer

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