|Bsrnard Hughes, Marybeth Hurt, Charlotte Moore, Randall Duk Kim.|
Edward Berkeley’s staging of this rarely revived quasi-Shakespeare tragicomedy (the Bard is believed to have written only the last three of its five acts) provoked sharply contradictory responses. Clive Barnes described this Shakespeare in the Park production as “forthright” and clear, but “unadventurous.” He wanted it to have a more “imaginative use of music, dance and spectacle,” and more employment of Santo Loquasto’s “flying bridge of a ship” setting. But Edith Oliver thought that “scene by scene this production is . . . firmly and imaginatively done. . . . There are mime and dumb show and dancing and music and excitement at every turn.”
Barnes (referring to Tom O’Horgan, known for his over-the-top directorial style) thought the salacious brothel scene—staged as “an O’Horganized free-for-all between a blowzy madam and a gawky transvestite”—was jarring in relation to the remainder of the show, while Oliver considered it a “triumph.”
Theatricalist touches cited by Oliver included having the actors come out one by one about 20 minutes before the play began to sweep the stage. The familiar concept was to have them behave as members of a strolling company. Several of them did circus bits—including riding a unicycle and juggling—until Gower (Barnard Hughes) arrived to start the show as chorus-narrator.
An unusual casting choice for Pericles was the deep-voiced Asian-American Randall Duk Kim, who surprised the critics by the degree of conviction he brought to the unlikely role. Pericles’s daughter, Marina, was beautifully acted by Marybeth Hurt, and fine jobs were turned in by others in a cast that included Lenny Baker, Richard Ramos, Tom Toner, Charlotte Moore, Helen Stenborg, Armand Assante, and Sasha von Scherler, among others.
There was an Off-Off Broadway mounting of Pericles in 1971 by the Classic Stage Company troupe, but the present version seems to have been the first one in New York of a fully professional stature in the 20th century.