Pericles, Prince of Tyre Triumphs at Shakespeare in the Park

The Greenstage Shakespeare in the Park production of Pericles, Prince of Tyre began its summer run last week. This Shakespeare play—inspired by John Gower and likely written with the help of George Wilkins—was brought to the Amphitheater Stage at Volunteer Park under the directorial vision of Ken Holmes. Regarding goods and theater, one gets what one pays for, but occasionally, one gets more than what one pays for. In the case of this completely FREE show, the audience gets a performance that doesn’t feel free at all.

Pericles is not one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays. While it was popular in the latter half of his lifetime, when London theatres closed in 1642, Pericles’s popularity ended. John Gower, played by Erin Day, is the show’s narrator. Thanks to her enthusiasm and timing, scenes that could be interpreted as overly dark (such as scenes about incest and human trafficking) had a bit of comedic relief that kept the audience engaged.

This play takes place in many locations—Antioch, Tarsus, and Pentapolis, just to name a few—as Prince Pericles (Matthew Fisher in his Shakespeare in the Park debut) deals with love, assassination plots, and the amount of tragedy Shakespeare is famous for. A lot of the plot happens at sea. With a simple set of nothing more than a sign with the country’s name that is regularly switched out, a sheet that serves as waves, and a trunk, the cast is able to traverse sea and land successfully.

Though many characters in this tale span multiple generations, thanks to the costume designs of Elizabeth Power, the audience can easily differentiate between the numerous characters. Music was another thing that broke up the monotony of the tragedy. A couple of drums really did a lot for the show.

At times the actors were a bit difficult to hear (at no fault of their own) despite the four amplifiers, but that is to be expected at a free show in the park and can easily be remedied by picking a seat closer to the stage.

Overall, if one is craving a Shakespeare show but doesn’t have the money for it they should see Pericles, Prince of Tyre. It is high quality theatre without the price tag.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre by William Shakespeare. Playing at various parks throughout the summer. No tickets necessary, it is recommended you arrive early to find a seat. For dates and locations: https://greenstage.org/2022/pericles-prince-of-tyre/

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