Reviews: “Pericles” in San Rafael and “Shakespeare in Love” in Santa Rosa

‘Tis the season for Shakespeare al fresco so pack a picnic, grab a blanket and check out these North Bay productions:

Marin Shakespeare closes out its season under the stars with Pericles, a play whose authorship by Shakespeare has fostered many a debate. Plot points include incest, assassination, famine, a shipwreck, marriage, maternal death, familial separation, attempted murder, kidnapping, pirates, prostitution, and a seemingly dead person rising from a watery grave. Who knew Shakespeare wrote a zombie play?  And this is a comedy.

Dameion Brown

Director Lesley Currier and her design team have taken all these elements, dressed them up in modern garb, added a few topical references, and come up with the theatrical equivalent of a “B” movie. It’s entertaining and even moving at the end, but it evaporates quickly in the night air.

Artist-in-residence Dameion Brown brings his commanding stage presence to the title role. Fine supporting work is done by Cathleen Ridley as the loving Queen Simonedes and the treacherous Dionyza; Eliza Boivin as Marina, Pericles’s daughter; Rod Gnapp and Richard Pallaziol in a variety of roles; and Diane Wasnak, who is very engaging as the puckish storyteller Gower.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

‘Pericles’ runs Thursday–Sunday through August 5 at Forest Meadows Amphitheater at Dominican University. 890 Belle Ave., San Rafael. Showtimes vary. $10–$38. 415.499.4488.

Photos by Jay Yamada

As originally published in the North Bay Bohemian

Santa Rosa’s Shakespeare in the Cannery ceases to exist after this season’s production as the property is being “repurposed.” Co-founder/director David Lear decided to go out on a lighter note so they’re presenting Shakespeare in Love, the stage adaptation of 1998’s Best Picture Oscar winner.

Poor Will Shakespeare (John Browning) has writer’s block and can’t seem to finish his latest opus, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. A muse arrives in the person of Viola (Sydney McNulty), who disguises herself as ‘Thomas Kent’ so as to get around the ‘no women on stage’ rule. Shifty theatre producers, a loathsome Lord, a treacherous boy and a haughty queen all come into play before Romeo and Juliet sees the light of day.

It’s a piffle but the cast has fun, with good comedic support from Alan Kaplan and Liz Jahren. Isiah Carter impresses in two roles and keep an eye out for Isabella, one of the moodiest, scene-stealing “bitch” characters I’ve seen on a North Bay Stage.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

‘Shakespeare in Love’ runs Friday – Sunday through August 5 at the Cannery. 3 W. Third St., Santa Rosa. 7pm. $10–$30. 707.523.4185.

As originally published in the North Bay Bohemian

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