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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Alternating between acts of benevolence, neutrality and the occasional bad turn, the three Fates (played by Vincent Cardinale, Dash Pepin and Jonas Welsh) literally pluck the titular Pericles out of a crowd and set him off on the adventure of a lifetime. And as said odyssey unfolds, it's the Fates who intervene in fights, cause havoc and step into character when a servant or a panderer is required. When Pericles's tale is temporarily played out, the Fates &mdash rather arbitrarily &mdash switch their allegiance over to the Prince of Tyre's young daughter Marina. Good thing, too. That lass needs all the help she can get.
Director/choreographer John Farmanesh-Bocca &mdash who also plays Pericles &mdash scored acclaim when he took Pericles Redux to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in its 2008 premiere. Farmanesh-Bocca and his NMAPTE have made creative use of the highly versatile Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. That is to say, they've left it bare, leaving matters entirely to lighting designer Randy Brumbaugh, sound engineer Adam Phalen and the company members to birth the tale.
Jerzy Grotowski, whose Poor Theatre Farmanesh-Bocca is looking to emulate, would have approved. And Redux audiences certainly do. What's not to like? A tricky, often unwieldy "classic" has been camped up, burlesqued and infused with massive jolts of energy and creativity. Not Man Apart has done this while leaving Shakespeare's language intact.
For those unfamiliar (for which there is no need to apologize), Pericles journeys to Antioch only to discover that the princess he is wooing is incestuously involved with her father, King Antiochus. Looking to escape the King's rage at the discovery, our hero takes to the seas. In no short time, he bales a nation out of famine, ends up shipwrecked in another land, wins and weds the Princess Thaisa, loses her in childbirth at sea, dumps her corpse overboard and ultimately abandons his infant daughter, Marina to a traitorous queen. Even with the Fates in attendance, things don't go smoothly for Marina who ends up abducted by pirates and sold into prostitution. Believe it or don't, all ends happily thanks to some rather unlikely twists.
Orchestrating the proceedings as he does with liberal amounts of comic hijinks and athletic dance, Farmanesh-Bocca is himself a strong and no nonsense Pericles. Matters may become curiouser and curiouser (particularly in the realm of the Monty Python-esque King Simonides played by Alexander Rogers), but this Pericles plays it straight. That Farmanesh-Bocca can keep up with the movement demands of the Fates and the ensemble is impressive if hardly surprising, since he is also Pericles Redux's choreographer.
New though she is to the ensemble, Jennifer Landon adds humor and ingénue intrigue to the dual role of Pericles's loving wife Thaisa and Marina. Given how completely the title character drops out of the story, the performance's second half is largely Landon's to carry and the actress (tarted up in pig tails and a Catholic schoolgirl skirt) keeps her piety and her comic chops in equal balance. Some hamminess notwithstanding, the ensemble is largely on target with Alix Angelis (also the production's costume designer) turning in especially fine work as a faithful nurse, the Goddess Diana and a dimbulb harlot.