by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
It’s a family affair.
The Porters of Hellsgate would like you to embrace their presentation of Shakespeare and Wilkins’ Pericles (Pericles Prince of Tyre), directed by Charles Pasternak, as a story that speaks directly to Syrian refugees, the homeless and the lost, the fear of outsiders in our society and building the wall.
When the world feels like it’s falling apart and practically is in many parts, this play certainly speaks to all of the above issues and more. But the truth is, Pericles, even as mythic and complicated as it is in navigating the story line, is a much simpler solace of rebirth, reunion and coming together.
There are tons of recognizable themes in this play, of course, Fate and Free Will, Deception, Envy, Sex, Revenge, Virtue, Power, and Mortality, but the ideal of Family really rings the loudest, at least here. Pericles is such an honorable and loving man whose heart is the fortification that stands truest in every storm even at the expense of his heart being crushed over and over by fate or the gods – or whatever you will.
The real takeaway is the dedication to do right and good and with compassion in the face of all that can go wrong or bad. In all, although one could argue that Pericles himself is not such a great king, (he makes a few blunders that become monstrous hurdles to overcome), he is a man, a husband and a father who considers family the most precious thing in the world.
To that notion, one of the fun aspects of this company production is father and son Leon Russom and Zach Russom appear on stage together for the very first time. They don’t have much dialog with one another (bummer to that). But it is certainly moving to behold theatrical legacy in living action. AKA – family.
As for the production, it’s a bit dodgy at the beginning and takes a bit of time to find it’s groove. But when it overcomes some of its drier moments it is a meaningful dialog about the core of people.
I’ve never been much of a fan of the grunge garb that Porters of Hellsgate adorn. But there is an unmistakable relatedness about it here which removes any superficiality or distraction to the story.
The two obvious heavy hitters here are Russom and actress Liza de Veerd Seneca as the frustrated bawd madam. Driving lead actor Luke McClure as Pericles keep this production in check. All three bring absolute clarity and resonance to the story. In De Veerd Seneca’s case, highly entertaining and bold comic relief.
Other notable characters are Alexandra Wright as Thaisa, Princess of Pentapolis. Wright has a lovely exuberance on stage with the character and definitely adds to the joyfully tearful moments. Also, Jono Eiland as Cerimon a Lord and physician of Ephesus, who in a smaller role is nevertheless, rather memorable for his pathos.
In typical Porters of Hellsgate style, it’s a fast moving, uncomplicated show with a bit of edge and one that keeps audiences engaged. Great moments throughout.