“Pericles: Prince of Tyre,” a new Gamut production that opened Saturday night, is an emotional rollercoaster that portrays the eponymous prince’s successes and sufferings, yielding a very enjoyable night at the theater.
Audiences should expect to feel nearly as wind-whipped as the characters, whose lives take thrilling and unsuspecting turns, leaving one guessing how it all will end.
Luckily for our hero, Pericles, a miracle is never too far from his reach, as long as he doesn’t become shipwrecked first. The show itself feels as if one is taking a trip to faraway lands, yet contains relatable themes. It is fitting that the time in which the play was written mirrors an emotionally turbulent time of births and deaths in Shakespeare’s own family life.
In the play, directed by Gamut veteran Thomas Weaver, a rather small cast tells one big story spanning many years and different locations. Actor Matt Romain is an expressive, passionate Prince Pericles, and the 11 other cast members switch between garments, personalities and accents as they take on changing roles. As the story unravels, the mesmerizing costume patterns onstage are as enchanting as the characters themselves.
The sound effects and Rachita Nambiar’s innovative choreography are impressive, becoming principal elements in this fresh take on Shakespeare’s tale. From the moment the show begins, the audience is plunged into darkness. The opening lighting and sound sequence stirs up feelings of danger and intrigue, which carry through the entire play. Then, we see scattered suitcases and dazed characters strewn across the stage, reminiscent of one of my favorite television shows, “Lost.”
The sense of sea travel from city to city is flawlessly executed on the intimate stage. Blue tapestries in constant motion embody swelling ocean waves. The audience feels the breeze as the tapestries dance, and as I breathed in, I could almost smell the salty sea air.
Through exciting moments of jousting to scandalous secrets, a bit of kidnapping, and some fantastic dancing, “Pericles: Prince of Tyre” is ultimately a story of love and compassion, one with a lot of heart. Despite its serious moments, which are central to the plot, the production ultimately is a fun escape, and I left the theater feeling lighter than when I arrived.
William Shakespeare’s “Pericles: Prince of Tyre” runs through Nov. 25 at Gamut Theatre, 15 N. 4th St., Harrisburg. For more information and tickets, call 717-238-4111 or visit www.gamuttheatre.org.