July 5, 2007
An entirely different story or a tale of
By Susan Steinberg, The
PAGE 8 - JULY 3,2008
features Thaisa (Emily Jordan)
and Pericles (Michael C. Storm)
Photo - Doug Jorgensen
Amazing! A play I had disdained upon reading has hit the Summer
stage in two entirely different productions, and each is a winner!
I wrote a week ago about the Cal Shakes version in Orinda, a 1,001
nights tale of a hero's multiple adventures, with exotic settings,
costumes, music, and characters.
Just opened in Pleasanton last weekend is S.F. Shakespeare's equally
imaginative take on the same play, set in the down-home old U.S.
of A. in the 1850's.
The costumes range from Appalachian to the San Francisco Gold
Rush bawdy house, with the South and Texas thrown in. And so do
the accents and music, with songs ranging from "I'm a Poor
Wayfarin' Stranger" to "It Was sad When That Great Ship
Went Down," plus a little bit of gospel thrown in.
While the twang or drawl took a bit of getting used to, the concept
soon took hold with the folksy settings and props taking us back
to a 19'"-Century setting.
The cast's mastery of a complex plot and their ensemble ease together
was remarkable for an opening performance, especially with individuals
having to play up to six parts each, complete with
changes of costumes, mannerisms and speech. Quite a tricky tour
de force, but carried off with great skill and high energy.
Every actor proved excellent at enunciating the Elizabethian lines
(not all of the play is actually by the Bard), but greatest bravos
must go to Michael Storm. Playing the wandering hero who goes
through the "Perils of Pauline" for most of his adventurous
life, he has the task of convincing the audience of his real emotional
turmoil in many unreal situations. Especially in the final scenes,
his human emotions are movingly conveyed, ranging from anguish
to joy as his lost loved ones are restored to him.
His daughter Marina, as played by Siobhan Doherty, is fully his
match in eloquence and the power to move hearers to belief in
her emotions. In the midst of such a fantastical plot, it's not
such an easy thing to accomplish!
For amazing range of characterizations, my hat is off to Jessica
Powell, who plays a King's trusted old advisor (male), a stolid
nurse- maid (female) and finally, the over-the-top madam Wild
West bawdy house!
Tim Hendrixson also shines in three incredibly varied roles: a
villainous assassin, the jolly old king of a neighboring county,
and finally, the doorkeeper and shill of the brothel, full of
and earthier lust.
Oh, and did I mention that every one of the actors also performs
on a variety of instruments from guitar and banjo to flute, whistles,
fiddles, trumpet, harmonica, accordion, keyboard, percussion,
concertina, and dulcimer? Talk about versatility... These people
are Jack and Jills of all arts AND they all sing as well!
Families with children enjoy all the funny business, which kept
the youngsters happily entertained while the adults had the joy
of free Shakespeare to delight their ears. Courtesy of the City
of Pleasanton and several foundations and donors, this rich show
is brought to the people at no cost (of course, most audience
members respond generously to the actors' donation baskets at
the end of the evening.)
So do yourself a favor and take advantage of this rare play being
presented right here in the Valley. Catch S.F. Shakes "Pericles"
in Pleasanton Amador Valley 'Community Park, 4301 Black Avenue,
just behind the swimming pool. Performances are scheduled at 7:30
PM Saturdays and Sundays through July 13. Future venues include
Cupertino, San Mateo, and San Francisco's Presidio. For more information,
contact 415-558-0888 or wwwsfshakes.org.
And, please be as generous as the opening night's audiences, who
obviously appreciated the professionalism and dedication of a
hard-working cast and crew.