Tonight and Sat., “Pericles-Prince of Tires,” HERE Arts Center in NYC (Review)
Tampa’s Jobsite Theater Company is currently performing its critically acclaimed production of Pericles at New York’s HERE Arts Center (145 Sixth Avenue, between Spring and Broome). The show will run for a limited engagement thru this Saturday, April 17. Check out this site for more details.
This riotous, highly entertaining rock musical adaptation, which premiered last August at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (now the David E. Straz Center), proves that irreverence can sometimes be a virtue. Shakespeare’s Pericles itself is a rather pert and impious play given its treatment of incest, brothels, and political corruption. And it is for these reasons, in part, that it lends itself so well to postmodern parody. In Pericles-Prince of Tires, playwrights Neil Gobioff and Shawn Paonessa have aptly recontextualized the original within modern day New York mob culture, replacing its multiple foreign, and potentially off-putting settings of Tyre, Antioch, Tarsus, Pentapolis, Ephesus, and Mytilene with more familiar locations in America’s mid-Atlantic region, namely, Rikers Island, Brooklyn, Coney Island, and Cape Cod. Shakespeare’s characters have received modernized or altogether new mob-inspired names: Antiochus/Fat Tony; Pericles/Perry, Prince of Tires; Helicanus/Henry the Fixer; Lysimachus/Lizard; Thasia/Talia; Dionyza/Dion. Costumes fittingly range from blue collar to tacky: For instance, Ingenue Marina (Katie Castonguay) dons an assortment of risqué outfits, from a Brittany Spears-inspired plaid mini skirt to a red polka dot bikini. “Fat Tony”(Chris Perez) struts about in a tracksuit, and Dion (Amy E. Gray) rocks a tank top with bold-patterned Capri pants, gaudy jewelry, and a teased platinum blonde wig. The show contains 19 original songs that serve as vehicles both for (re)conveying plot details and for emphasizing the darkly comic perversity of the narrative. Director David Jenkins keeps the show moving effectively apace. Jason Vaughan Evans as a nerdy priest to Thasia/Talia’s family and Spencer Meyers as a Jack Blackish eunuch named Cedric (the modernization of Cerimon from 3.3) deliver some of the most hilarious moments. This Shakespeare adaptation is guaranteed NOT to put you to sleep, but instead to make you laugh with mixed amusement and disgust at how certain human vices have endured since Shakespeare’s day.
*Note: My more extensive review of this production will appear in Shakespeare Bulletin, Vol 28, issue 2, Summer 2010.
*Photographs: (1) “Cast on Set” (L-R, Jason Vaughan Evans, Spencer Meyers, Katie Kastonguay, Stephen Ray, Ami Sallee Corley, Joe Popp, Chris Perez, Amy E. Gray. Photo by Tracy May.); (2) “Cedric the Eunuch” (Spencer Meyers as Cedric. Photo by Yvonne M. McGreevy.)