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Review: THE ADVENTURES OF PERICLES at the Stratford Festival is Moving and Fun

THE ADVENTURES OF PERICLES by William Shakespeare, and directed by Scott Wentworth, opened at Stratford Festival's Tom Patterson Theatre on Saturday night. Starring Evan Buliung as the title character, this production was moving and fun from beginning to end.

PERICLES-Shakespeare's first Romance, is a dynamic and entertaining play with many twists and turns. It tells the tale of Pericles, the Prince of Tyre who pursues his eventual Queen as he is forced to flee an assassin. After a series of events separate him and his loved ones at sea, the play tells the story of each of their adventures as they come to hopefully find one another again. Mr. Wentworth takes some liberties with the narrators, casting, and music, and it all seems to pay off in dividends. For example, rather than the standard narrator, Gower, this production is narrated by the Goddess Diana (referenced often by several characters in the play) and a team of priestesses, all dressed in white. There is a great deal of music added to this production. The music not only helps to set the mood, but also gives a sense of soul to this production. The lyrics for one song, entitled 'The Pearl', which is featured at several key moments throughout the play, was actually written by actress, Marion Adler, who also portrays Diana in this production. Paul Shilton composed and recorded all original music, and the Director of music was Franklin Brasz.

Another unique choice made by Mr. Wentworth is to have all the Kings played by Wayne Best, and all the women in Pericles' life played by Deborah Hay. Ms. Hay is excellent as both Thaisa and Marina. The way she plays each character, the changes in her dynamic with Mr. Buliung's Pericles as his wife compared to his daughter, etc. make it very clear that this choice was a good one. It really allows for Ms. Hay to sink her teeth into each role.

As Pericles, Mr. Buliung has to tell the story that spans decades, of a man who first gains, then loses everything. Mr. Buliung is up to the task. He is dashing as a young, albeit somewhat unprepared knight, fighting for Thaisa's affections and he is heartbreaking as the man who believes that he has lost everyone that he loves. Mr. Buliung has a leading man presence and it is on full display throughout the entire production.

Other notable performances include Ms. Adler as Diana; E.B. Smith, as a myriad of would-be assassins; Claire Lautier-who is just pure evil as Marina's foster mother, Dionyza; and Antoine Yared as Lysimachus, who, despite a relatively small role in the overall play, feels to be a very fleshed-out character due, I'm sure, to Mr. Yared's talents and Mr. Wentworth's direction. Keith Dinicol was also a standout in this production. He brought several humourous moments to his collection of ensemble roles in the play and I found myself often watching for him in particular.

For a show that has, quite frankly, a lot going on, and is set in several different locations (including 'at sea') Mr. Wentworth's direction, and Set Design by Patrick Clark, excellently keep the audience on track. Lighting by Kevin Fraser and Sound by Verne Good, are also used to great effect. There is a moment where several small tables and stools are quickly turned into a crackling fire. This is done so effectively, that I could almost feel the warmth.

All of the elements are there to make for a very entertaining production, and that is exactly what the audience gets. This story is an 'adventure' indeed and I encourage you to check it out.

THE ADVENTURES OF PERICLES continues in repertory until September 19th.

Photo Credit: David Hou

From This Author - Lauren Gienow

Based out of Stratford, Ontario, Lauren is an Occupational Therapist working in mental health by day and a BWW Contributor by night (or by matinee). Lauren enjoys daring new productions, classic plays,... (read more about this author)

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