Theatre Matters

Contemplations on the dramatic arts from a national perspective

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Steven Oxman has contributed to such publications as the Los Angeles Times, American Theatre, Stagebill, and, most frequently, Variety, for which he has written over 300 television and theatre reviews.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A Praiseworthy "Pericles"

Peter Marks in The Washington Post loves the new production of "Pericles" at D.C.'s Shakespeare Theatre, directed by Mary Zimmerman. Like many others, I was a fan of Zimmerman's "Metamorphoses," although more the direction than the adaptation of Ovid's tales. I've been hoping she'd apply her creativity to classics, and this sure sounds exciting:

"Zimmerman, a Chicago-based director who won a Tony for her shimmering adaptation of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses,' has talked of being drawn to the works of Shakespeare and others that are considered lesser achievements. Like some sort of faith healer, she is liberated, it appears, by the challenge of making the theatrically lame walk again. Her imaginative fingerprints are all over this staging, and not in the smudgy way that some directors like to add gratuitous sight gags and self-conscious pop-cultural references.

No, what Zimmerman discovers is a real beating heart for 'Pericles,' and a smart and fluid new way to tell a bumpy story....

The director, making her Shakespeare Theatre debut, builds up to the beauty of this storybook ending with a child's plaything of a 'Pericles,' coated from start to finish in warm colors and beguiling images. [Daniel] Ostling's superb set puts 'Pericles' in a towering room with a massive vertical window; all during the play, faces and model ships and goddesses peer in and sail by and fly through the window. Adding to the sense of a magical playroom is a wall of drawers and cabinets, out of which cast members pull props and bits of scenery, such as the fabrics used to suggest stormy ocean swells and virginal bridal beds."

I've seen a couple of decent productions of "Pericles," but never a great one. This is one I'd like to see.