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Pericles

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
3 stars
Leaving aside the questions over the actual authorship of what may or
may not be the bard's most scattershot work – half Shakespeare, half a
couple of his not quite so clever contemporaries, the scholars say –
cut through the morass and its not a bad yarn. Bard in the Botanics
director Gordon Barr's ninety-five minute version for four actors
situated in the Kibble Palace goes some way to prove this in what
becomes a near Dickensian mythological romp.

The fact that the whole affair is kicked off by Pericles' ability to
decode King Antiochus's incestuous confession disguised as a riddle
speaks volumes about the play's taboo-busting intent. Barr opens
proceedings with all four actors itinerising chest-loads of booty as if
they've just discovered buried treasure only to find themselves in the
same story-book they relate each act's prologue from.

As Pericles does a runner, he finds himself courting even more trouble,
his wooing of Thaisa – another king's daughter – leading to the birth
of their daughter Marina and a whole load of stormy weather for all
concerned. Giant waves are illustrated by a mug of water thrown in the
mush, while the tournaments Pericles competes in are of the It's A
Knockout style egg and spoon variety. Pirates wear eye-patches,
villains sport toppers, and the knights appear to be straight out of
Trumpton.

Kirk Bage, Beth Marshall, James Murfitt and Amie Burns Walker have
great fun with all this hat-changing, frock-swapping stuff as they flit
between oceans as well as generations. If the play was already
something of a collectively constructed collage, this piece of
picaresque Victoriana is as valid a rendering as any.

The Herald, July 22nd 2011

ends

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