Pericles, Prince of Tyre
The story: Pericles tells the story of a Prince on the seas. Chased from Tyre by an assassin, Pericles travels to many lands, meets the love of his life (Thaisa), loses her, and returns home leaving his child with trusted friends. His daughter, Marina, is betrayed by those friends, sent to her murder, kidnapped by pirates, and sold into prostitution. She manages to escape through her skills in rhetoric, gaining a position of respect and admiration in Mytilene, until one day Pericles, bereft and broken, lands on their shores. They are reunited, and led by a vision to Ephesus, where Thaisa is alive and well, having waited all these years for their return.
The director, Sophie Paterson describes her vision: ‘The audience enters an 18th Century pub, full of the warmth of hearth-light, with the resounding voices of regulars singing and socializing. We’re invited to drink and eat. This is a place where parents and children, friends and strangers, family old and new, are welcome.
The barman comes forward and introduces himself to us: “To sing a song that old was sung, from ashes, Ancient Gower is come.” ‘
Photograph by John Saunders.
Pericles – Andrew Isherwood
Marina – Emily Thane
Thaisa – Claire Morley
Simonides – Nick Jones
Boult – Rory Oliver
Lysimachus – Jimmy Johnson
Dionyza – Carrie Morrison
Cleon – Taylor Sanderson
Helicanus – George Stagnell
Other parts played by members of the cast.
Director: Sophie Paterson
Assistant Director: Buffy Watling
Musical Director: John Robin Morgan
Design: Amy Rhianne Milton
Stage Manager: Emily Humphrys
ASMs: Margarita Mazurova and Alex Wallis
In The York Press, Charles Hutchinson wrote:
‘PERICLES is a play of two halves but without an interval in Sophie Paterson’s directorial debut for York Shakespeare Project. This is not a case of “let’s get it over with as quickly as possible and then we can all go to the pub”, because we’re all in a seaside pub, The Gower, in her play-within-a-play staging of this very minor Shakespeare piece.
‘In fact, Paterson invites you to arrive early, from half an hour before the start, so you can enjoy a drink at the auditorium’s impromptu bar with her cast, already in character playing a boisterous company about to tell the tale of Pericles, Prince Of Tyre.
‘This is not her way of trying to distract you from Pericles’s place in the relegation spots of the Shakespeare league table, but instead a canny mode of pumping new air into what otherwise might by Pericles, Prince Of Flat Tyre.
‘Sophie, originally from Seattle, is on the directing, performing and writing MA course in the University fo York’s department of Theatre, Film and Television and has a love of Pericles stretching back to teenage days. A friend had advised her to stop her fixation with King Lear after her parents split up, suggesting Pericles’ tale of reunion would be a mood upgrade, and she has since played Marina and is now directing a production that you can’t avoid knowing falls in the week of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
‘Forming York Shakespeare Project’s 29th show, Pericles is a “play of two halves” because Bill wrote only half of it, the better half of course, after inn-keeper, part-time crook (allegedly) and very part-time playwright George Wilkins asked for his help, as you do.
‘It duly became the first of Shakespeare’s late-career romances, and by taking the play at a fair old lick, with the company on stage at all times egging each other on, YSP make it a better show than it has any right to be.
‘Paterson has cast well: Nick Jones as the wrong’un of the piece, Simonides; Andrew Isherwood as the storm-tossed Pericles, with the world’s weight on his shoulders; Claire Morley, holding everything together, both as Thaisa and one of the Fishermen; the splendidly roaring Rory Oliver as Boult; and Jimmy Johnson, regularly seeking out portals to comedy, in myriad roles.
‘George Stagnell’s limping Helicanus is a noble support player, sometimes leading the lusty singing of sea shanties too, and amid the company’s badinage and revelry, Emily Thane’s Marina, Pericles’s long-lost daughter, stands apart, serious and resolute, a young woman of no nonsense and good deeds. She is almost too good for this play!’