Review: Pericles

Written for The Stage

The adage ‘show, don’t tell’ – a precautionary note designed to stop writers from relying solely on description – could be put to good use here. David Weinberg’s Pericles is an enjoyable romp that moves at a sharp pace. But the expositional acting of this likeable cast is reminiscent of the classical fantasy films of the 1960s.

Still they just about get away with it. Philip Mansfield’s Elizabethan narrator bounds on stage before pulling us back in time to a cast dressed in reams of fabric and Greek sandals. Incest, love, shipwreck, comedy, calamity and a happy ending are all laced together by Mansfield’s fruity commentary and a cast of no less than 11 performers.

Jonathan Leinmuller is gallant as Pericles, the valiant centre of this adventure. As his tearful and silver-tongued daughter, Rachael Cunliffe manages to avoid the irritation caused by many wide-eyed and put upon heroines, which is no mean feat.

Alessia Alba’s costumes are elegant while Philip Jones’ lighting transforms this Homeric Odyssey into a mini-series, with blackouts breaking the action down into workable chunks.

Weinberg’s Pericles is old fashioned but it has a nostalgic charm that carries its audience through even the silliest parts of this epic soap opera.

Runs until 28th October

Review: The Lady from the Sea

Written for Time Out

Stephen Unwin’s version of ‘The Lady from the Sea’ is a lively but rather rudderless affair, turning Henrik Ibsen’s strong wave into a mass of emotional eddies.

Ellida Wangel is plagued by an obsession with both the sea and a lost love. When her mysterious stranger returns, will her kindly but traditional husband give her the freedom to choose or lose her forever?

The story of this middle sister (quietly sandwiched between ‘A Doll’s House’s Nora and Hedda Gabler, no less) is a delicate balance of social interrogation and light hearted comedy. Sadly Unwin’s contemporary translation, full of repetitions and expositions, pours oil on Ibsen’s dancing waters. The audience laugh, but often in sincerely intended moments, puncturing any emotional flow.

Joely Richardson is a striking Ellida; her performance aims high but quickly becomes overwrought and superficial. A charismatic Madeleine Worrall as Bolette and a sickly Sam Crane as the buffoonish Hans Lyngstrand beautifully navigate between humour and believability. Alexandra Moen injects a deliciously dark undercurrent as youngest sibling Hilde.

Simon Higlett’s wooden wave of a floor, buttressed against a Turner-esqe backdrop is a romantic reminder of the sea’s pull, even if its fluid expanse threatens to engulf this pretty but skittish production.