Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Folger Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Akeelah and the Bee, Cinderella, Guys and Dolls and Oliver!

Wayne T. Carr and Brooke Parks
Photo by Teresa Wood
Pericles was one of William Shakespeare's best known and loved plays in his own time, but the fact that it wanders rather than following a traditional theatrical structure means that it is not often performed now. Director Joseph Haj's production at the Folger Theatre in Washington, which originated at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, is imaginative and moving at times but soothing when it should be exciting.

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.

Folger Theatre
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival production
November 13th - December 20th
By William Shakespeare
Cleon/Cerimon/Pirate: Barzin Akhavan
Pericles, Prince of Tyre: Wayne T. Carr
Musician: Darcy Danielson
Gower: Armando Durán
Lysimachus/Lord: Michael Gabriel Goodfriend
Marina/Antiochus' Daughter: Jennie Greenberry
Helicanus/Fisherman/Bawd: Michael J. Hume
Leonine/Fisherman: Cedric Lamar
Thaisa/Dionyza: Brooke Parks
Antiochus/Simonides/Pandar: Scott Ripley
Lord/Sailor: Zlato Rizziolli
Lychorida/Diana: Emily Serdahl
Thaliard/Fisherman/Boult/Man: U. Jonathan Toppo
Sailor/Lord/Pirate: Samuel L. Wick Directed by Joseph Haj
201 E. Capitol St., S.E.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-544-7077 or

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