Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
The play follows Pericles (Wayne T. Carr), prince of Tyre, through a life of great changes in fortune. Over the course of the play, he almost dies on several occasions, he finds love and loses it, and ultimately he discovers how all the pieces fit together with the help of a literal deus ex machina. But with the shipwrecks, pirate attacks, forced prostitution, and father-daughter incest, much of Haj's production seems rather overly casual.
Carr succeeds in the monumental task of stringing together the disparate scenes as Pericles sails from one city to the next. The only other actor who plays a single character is Armando Durán, gentle and mellow as Gower, a medieval poet who serves as chorus and narrator.
Part of Haj's conceit is that the same people reappear in a person's life, often as polar opposites of their previous characters. Scott Ripley plays both immoral King Antiochus and generous King Simonides, not to mention a pimp, and creates three widely diverse identities. Similarly, Jennie Greenberry appears as the imperious daughter of Antiochus before dominating the second act as Pericles' daughter Marina, herself searching for her place in life. Sometimes the action propels the character changes: Dionyza (Brooke Parks) is grateful and kind when she appears early in the action, but returns with a murderous fury. In between, Parks is Thaisa, daughter of Simonides and eventually wife of Pericles, who has her own character arc.
The physical production is sumptuous and beautiful on Jan Chambers' wide-open set framed by curved rear panels. Francesca Talenti's video design and Rui Rita's lighting design use images of a starry sky, rough sea waves, and flames to help set the scenes, aided by Raquel Barreto's diverse costumes. Talented musicians (with instruments including a kazoo at one point) perform Jack Herrick's underscoring and settings of parts of the text.