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Pericles

Published 26 November 2015

What’s it all about?

Kicking off the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s season of late Shakespearean plays, Pericles is a fantastical fairytale concoction of outrageous fortune.

By turns the titular monarch falls in and out of love, fathers a child, wins tournaments, is shipwrecked not once but twice, loses all he loves and finds it again, receives an angelic vision and gets a Robinson Crusoe makeover.

Who’s in it?

Mr Globe, as the Bankside ever-present of the last decade should be known, James Garnon leads the cast as a magnificent Pericles. As a young prince beginning this outrageous romp of an adventure he is the most humble and selfless of all the Bard’s royals. His resolution, from a pit of empty darkness to revived family man, is, fittingly for this time of year, almost Scrooge-like in its boyish enthusiasm.

A versatile and uniformly excellent supporting cast takes on many a role between them, Simon Armstrong standing out as a playful King Simonides and Sheila Reid entrancing as the storytelling Gower.

What should I look out for?

Every visit to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, I’m struck by the beauty of candle-lit performance, but director Dominic Dromgoole has gone further to utilise all the unique venue has to offer with Pericles.

The imagining of a storm-battered ship direct from the mind of designer Jonathan Fensom and a wonderful tournament sequence that explodes from the stage to brilliantly use the Wanamaker’s surrounds are nothing if not crowd-pleasing.

In a nutshell?

Shakespeare’s romping fairy tale of fortune good and bad takes audiences on a hugely enjoyable adventure with the perfect festive happy ending.

What’s being said on Twitter?

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Will I like it?

I’m going to stick my neck out here and say that unless you’re the type of person who rocks up at the theatre, tweets throughout the first half then rudely pushes past performers to get out, you can’t go wrong with Pericles. With the ludicrousness of its storyline, the magic of its resolution, the warming candlelight and the joy of its invention and performances, it feels like a fabulous festive treat without any mention of Christmas.      

Pericles plays at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse until 21 April. You can book tickets through Shakespeare’s Globe’s website.

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