I have always found Pericles to be the most confusing, most confounding, most difficult, and most troubling of any of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare. It is at once fantastical and absurd and just completely unbelievable even compared to other dramas of the period. And despite the Red Bull Theater‘s mastery at performing readings in Zoom and Kent Gash’s masterful direction, they weren’t able to dissuade me of my opinion.
And they assembled a marvelous cast…again. And all of the principle characters shone through!
But I have to give special note to Grantham Coleman, who plays the title role of Pericles. With the limited environment provided within a Zoom window, we sense and feel all of the various emotions and situations sorely suffered by Pericles. A truly masterpiece of ‘acting’ in this reading format. Bravo! His performance alone was worth overcoming my befuddlement around this play.
For me the other standouts are Callie Holley as Marina, as long suffering as her father, Pericles himself and the multi-roled Jordan Mahome, particularly as Leonine and Lysimachus!
It is not uncommon for large cast plays with a large number of small roles, for an actor to play more than one role. It is confusing enough on a stage when costuming and scenic location provide tells for who is who and where we are. It is far more difficult in a Zoom setting where costuming is at a minimum and there are no scenic changes to provide that bit of extra identifying context. I found it particularly confusing in Pericles…and although Red Bull does its best to label the Zoom windows with a character’s name, they weren’t able to do it as completely here as in the past.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Gower/Cerimon | Michele Shay
Antiochus/Simonides/Boult | Timothy D. Stickney
Pericles | Grantham Coleman
Philemon/Diana | Shirine Babb
Lysimachus/Thaliard/Leonine | Jordan Mahome
Helicanus/Pandar | Bhavesh Patel
Cleon | Craig Wallace
Dionyza | Mahira Kakkar
Thaisa | Kimberly Chatterjee
Bawd/Lychordia | Caroline Clay
Marina | Callie Holley
Clown 1 | Edward O’Blenis
Clown 2 | Anthony Michael Martinez
The reading itself was only available for a limited time as all previous Red Bull Theater readings have been, so as of this writing it is gone. There, however, are other videos available related to this presentation!
And Red Bull Theater is now back for the fall with in person theater, so if you are in the neighborhood, check out their new season! But I hope that doesn’t mean that these readings will come to an end. Being a thousand miles away from their home base, these readings are a remarkable touch base to their remarkable theater.