Bard on the Beach Pericles

As you enter Bard on the Beach’s intimate Douglas Campbell Theatre stage, you’re at once greeted with the sounds of doves and bells, a stage in the round flanked by ceramic and copper antiquities plus a mosaic floor with columns at the rear.

Even the steps leading to the stage contain eroded tile edges, setting the ambiance for a beautiful Middle Eastern-themed production of Shakespeare’s Pericles.

Set designer Amir Ofek transforms the stage into an ancient Middle Eastern world, together with immersive sound and music by Malcolm Dow and nomadic costumes by Carmen Alatorre, who incorporates specific colours and prints to represent different kingdoms and characters.

Bard on the Beach Pericles

The use of white makeup enhances several scenes, especially when characters are at sea, where draped cloth functions as wind, sails, waves and boat. Again we have Alatorre to thank for this creative wizardry.

This is Lois Anderson’s directorial debut at Bard; according to the program notes, she’s taken great liberty with this adaptation: the play opens in the ancient ruined world of Ephesus, a part of the world that Shakespeare had never travelled to, hence the characters here are mythical.

David Warburton, Kayla Deorksen, Ian Butcher
[David Warburton, Kayla Deorksen, Ian Butcher]

The play begins with healer Cerimon who’s creating medicines for Pericles, an ailing foreign king. A young girl is brought into the picture via a madam (Kayla Deorksen) and pimp (Ian Butcher) from the local brothel, however Cerimon decides she’s of more use to him as an apprentice than a call girl.

She remains at his side; after learning about the king’s state of being, the girl asks him to reveal the story of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

David Warburton Kamyar Pazandeh
[David Warburton, Kamyar Pazandeh]

The imaginative storytelling is at times done via objects on stage portrayed as various characters, reminiscent of puppetry. There are many more unique elements included during the two-hour (including intermission) production that must be experienced rather than be recounted here!

Standout roles include Luisa Jojic as both brothel girl and later Marina, David Warburton as healer Cerimon, Kamyar Pazandeh as Pericles and Kayvon Kelly as Leonine, a servant to Dionyza.

Luisa Jojic, David Warburton
[Luisa Jojic, David Warburton]

We especially enjoyed watching the relationship between Cerimon and Marina blossom during the play, a pure and harmonious friendship that bonds the two through the years.

In a moving ending, the story comes full circle at the temple, where an older, ailing Pericles returns to find Marina and in a miraculous turn of events is also blissfully reunited with Marina’s mother (and Pericles’ wife) Thaisa (played by Sereana Malani).

Bard on the Beach Pericles

The Pericles drama, short and sweet (by Shakespearean standards), immerses the spectator into a mythical world, one both compelling and timeless, showcasing that love, purity and honesty prevail above all else.

Directed by Lois Anderson, Pericles continues at Bard on the Beach’s Howard Family Stage in the Douglas Campbell Theatre through September 18. Photos by David Blue.

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