Pericles (1996): Riverside Studios, London
CAST INCLUDED: Justin Butcher (Pericles); Caroline Devlin (Marina); Cheryl Knight (Thaisa); Ben Okafor (Gower).
Adapted under the title The Legend of Pericles, this was a touring production, which played at the Riverside Studios, London from 7 November - 1 December 1996. Cast details taken from reviews; no programme has been found, therefore information may be incomplete.
"Roose-Evans's version, abridging Shakespeare and interpolating choral songs, transcends the difficulties posed in the staging of this fairy tale epic. The play is set in an infinite variety of locations, ranging from grand palace to very loose brothel, with storms at sea and shipwrecks, culminating in a scene of magic restoration when Pericles rediscovers his lost daughter and the wife he believed dead....Roose-Evans's stylised solution is to eschew realism and to present Pericles as a series of solemn rituals. He stages the play as a Jungian quest, a life-long journey in which the lusty, young Pericles is tested by the processes of exile, suffering and loss....The ingenious setting by Bruno Santini with oriental costumes, is a bare-boards affair, containing a magic circle bounded by wooden poles. As enacted by the singing, chanting players the play's crucial ceremonies acquire an eerie strangeness: a few animal bones, a withered tree-branch and an arch composed of poles help to create a sense of spartan, primitive societies. The Celtic and African music by Hugh Jones and Ben Okafor, who is also the sometimes unintelligible narrator, enhance this impression." ~ Nicholas de Jongh, "Set pieces win the day", Evening Standard, 11 November 1996
"...and Ben Okafor performs with gusto on drums and various African instruments. Okafor also plays the choric poet Gower, who displays just the right mixture of absorption in the story and tongue-in-cheek detachment from it." ~ Rupert Shortt, "Chaos and resolution", Times Literary Supplement, 22 November 1996
"In trying to fit the arbitrariness of Pericles' fate to this schematic idea of the play, Justin Butcher's Pericles ends up as little more than a collection of monolithic emotions - blustering and aggressive in the early scenes, modulating into unsubtle anguish at the end. That unidirectional simplicity would be welcome elsewhere in the production, though, where a succession of half-thought out ideas adds to the confusion. There's no reason, for instance, for Antiochus to be having a sexual relationship with his assassin, Thaliard. There's no reason for the city of Tarsus to be placed in Africa (except an unimginative connection between Africa and famine)....There are spots of delight - Ben Okafor's Caribbean Gower is compellingly sparky" ~ Robert Hanks, Independent, 11 November 1996
"Eastern instruments are shakes and blown and the company, dressed in cream pyjamas and karate outfits adopt a pure, simple approach. A billowing sheet is used to suggest the sea, a rope to cling to for the storms, and a chorus of men, their features dramatically smothered in nylon, swing by the side of the stage as Pericles decides whether to risk his life for the hand of the King of Antioch's daughter....[Justin Butcher] is given good support by John Feehan as the pouting Bawd, Cheryl Knight as his radiant wife and Brigid Zengeni's evil Dionyza." ~ Jane Edwardes, Time Out, 13 November 1996