Monday, 18 January 2016

Theatre 2016: Review Three

Pericles, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at the Globe Theatre, London. January 2016.

My new semi regular theatre companion and I made the trip to London - it was his first trip to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse and my first Shakespeare in the venue.

This is a venue that has grown on me slowly, now I know which are the comfiest seats it is a place I look forward to going to but this has taken time, I was worried that my companion would find it too uncomfortable and also would struggle to hear.

I'm pleased to say that we both had a thoroughly good time at this.  It is one of the lesser know plays and deals with incest, prostitution, piracy and child murder but it came together admirably and was believable where it needed to be which is no mean feat with the story.  The play meanders around the Mediterranean as the titular Pericles is buffeted from pillar to post by fate and throughout the afternoon I didn't lose track of where we were once, impressive when you work out just how many roles some of the cast were playing!

James Garnon was playing Pericles and I've seen him a lot at the Globe in the past few years, usually he is playing a decidedly comic role and it was great to see him in a more serious lead role, at least in the first half.  In the second half both my companion and I found it played just a little too much for laughs than our own reading had allowed and 'mad' Pericles' wide eyed mania was just a little too over the top.  However the revelations at the end do pile on top of each other and the plot is ludicrous and so I can see why this directorial decision had been taken.  He wasn't alone in this interpretation as Gower, the sage/chorus figure also got broader with her interpretations of the lines and laughter at the denouement was with the cast and not in disbelief.

After two seasons it was a delight to see some Shakespeare in the venue and the way that the sea storms were portrayed and acted was incredible - a simple rope net, a sail and then body language had me as convinced as some the most expensive special effects on screen.

I am so glad that I have booked tickets for all four of the winter season's plays - it will be fascinating to see how the further storms and ludicrous plots manifest themselves in this theatre.

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