peteg's blog - noise - theatre - 2009 06 29 Pericles

Bell Shakespeare: Pericles, Prince of Tyre at the Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House.

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Featuring a plot that would embarass Michael Bay, Pericles is one of those minor Shakespearean comedies that I was and should have remained oblivious to. The laughs are thin on the ground, and according to Wikipedia it is of dodgy provenance.

To be fair, the acting was fine without anyone standing out, and the set design quite fancy and well-used. But what is a director to do when the plot cannot possibly captivate the audience? Throw the focus to exotic music (Japanese TaikOz) and dance (err) to enliven, to enbulk. The drumming, indeed captivating at times, seemed to be of little relevance to the action, apart from perhaps evoking some kind of heraldry, yet Pericles is no worthy king. Conversely a wan flute was more impressive than the dreamy sequence it accompanied.

Thematically there were no ruminations, no exploration of the human spirit, just a bunch of coincidences and commerce. The gods are Roman (Jupiter, Diane) not Greek, and lost their gravitas in translation; not so much in the machine as worn lightly in dialogue, to glue things together, for the wordy virgin to implore as her improbable fate unwinds, and to smite the weak king and his capricious consort as explained in the closing words-rather-than-action monologue. John Bell has been spruiking this as levity, a worthy piece of escapism from the morass of the moment. I must admit to wishing for a speedier return to my tribulations.

More prosaically I was a bit shocked about the lack of etiquette in the theatre, with the late comers that were admitted well into the performance pushing past me, interrupting my view of the stage, and the usher's flashlight too regularly shining brightly in my peripheral vision. This was a preview, and if I hadn't got in for $42.50 I would've been even more annoyed.

Moreover the refurbishment of the theatre foyer is a joke. The box office is slap in the middle, so the queue blocks people walking between the bar and the dunnies. The dunnies are artless. The cloakage counter is narrow and the bloke has to walk too far to retrieve the gear, making for incredibly slow service. Again the queue there blocks the free movement of people. The bar is on the opposite side of the ticketing desk, and yes, that's another queue to snake through. The entry doors are narrow and perpendicular to the ramps, leading me to wonder how the lady in the wheelchair gained access.

Has it really been a year since i last went to the theatre? I guess I've lost interest.