jan_can_too (jan_can_too) wrote,


Pericles is not a particularly good play. The kids and I and an extra kid (since Brent didn’t feel good) saw Cal Shakes perform it last night. The staging was clever and funny, the acting strong, the costumes rich and colorful, but the play—not so brilliant.

Potential lurks in every twist. There is Incest! Attempted Murder! Shipwreck! Kidnap By Pirates! (Are you hearing the beginning of Princess Bride in your head? “Murdered by pirates is good…”) Resurrection from the Dead! Touching Family Reunion!

And it adds up to… nothing.

My handy Pelican Shakespeare weighs in (literally, 3.6 pounds, selected by my professor because it weighed less than the Riverside Shakespeare) with the information that the play was “experimental” with no interest in causality. What a polite way to say that the plot, while full of incident, makes no sense!

Which is why I am interested. Plot, in the comic book version of my life, is my nemesis, crafty and elusive, ready to steal the very breath from my creatures’ mouths and render them static and boring. I can describe the scenery all day long. I can develop characters with intriguing voices. But getting them to DO things is another matter entirely.

Here in this play I have an object lesson on why events are not enough: I wanted the action to build up to something. The terrible trial by riddle, the incestuous father-king, the alluring princess of act one leave the stage and disappear, to die offstage through no device of our hero, who is gripped by new events that again, add up to nothing.

It was a useful way to spend an evening. Fried chicken, lemon bars, giant fish and basket elephant on stage, and thoughts in my head the next morning.

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