Measure for Measure set in the 1980s where cocaine is king.
Othello influenced by rappers of the early 2000s.
There are so many adaptations that can be done with Shakespeare’s folio of work that sometimes it’s hard to come up with something completely out of the ordinary. But if you’re looking for an adaptation that doesn’t conform to any boundaries whatsoever, look no further than the latest play in American Players Theatre 2017 season – PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE.
American Players Theatre Travels the World
Shakespeare has been known to transport his characters from place to place within plays, never conforming to the rules of time and space. In the world of PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE, Shakespeare wanted to push these limits even further.
After discovering an incestual relationship between a king and his daughter, Pericles is advised to lie low and travel the world. Of course, for an adventurer, lying low never seems to be possible.
We follow Pericles as he sails from Tyre to Tarsus, to Pentapolis, back to Tarsus, to Mytilene, and finally Ephesus. He forms relationships, ends a famine, gets married, and eventually finds himself back in Tyre to rule the kingdom. Throughout his journey, he suffers losses and we wonder if he will ever recover and find his long lost daughter. It’s truly an action-packed story as we experience these events right alongside Pericles.
Clever Staging and Playing
It wasn’t enough for director Eric Tucker to simply have the prince travel to these places in one consistent time period. In fact, these places needed to be individual worlds themselves and we needed to be fully immersed in this idea of travel as audience members.
A variety of objects sit on stage, from a rack of robes and dresses to a large suitcase ready for whatever is about to take place.
Suddenly, the suitcase pops open and we are treated to a parade of actors and crew members climbing out of the suitcase greeting the audience in multiple languages.
These are our players for the evening, each taking on the role of storytellers and different characters throughout the show. The play begins in a place that perhaps is Russia as Tracy Michelle Arnold dons a cape and crown and a very thick accent. Young Pericles, played by Juan Rivera Lebron, then sets sail for what appears to be down in the Southern states in America.
Following that we travel to Scotland, England, even a swinger’s mansion in the 1970s. Each of the destinations Pericles visits in Shakespeare’s original work becomes a world unto itself, keeping us on our toes and awaiting what place comes next.
Unending Energy and Enthusiasm
This approach seems hectic at first and takes a bit to get used to. We’re thrown into a barrage of travel-hopping and wonder what the meaning is behind all these choices. How do they all fit in together? But once our travel guides get the ball rolling we sink into their world and embrace this play as globe trotters.
The stage is set specifically for the purpose of the actors creating these worlds themselves. Sound effects are made from an actor at a microphone ranging from crowds cheering to swords clashing.
We take to the sea with a billowing, blue curtain and the actors climb aboard a rotating staircase. And our players roll sets designed by Andrew Boyce on and off the stage, aiding in our being able to quickly travel the world.
The ensemble plays with each other, bouncing off each other’s energy. To this writer, a few moments seemed over the top or intended for a few cheap laughs here and there. But overall, the cast does a fantastic job of keeping the energy high as we embark on this grand adventure.
If you’re looking for a traditional Shakespeare play set in ancient Greco-Roman times, this show would not be for you. But American Players’ PERICLES is good for those looking for a fun and upbeat take on a traditional Shakespeare play.
Now through September 29, 2017
Various performance dates, please check website
American Players Theatre
The Hill Theatre
5950 Golf Course Rd.
Spring Green, WI 53588