Friday night finds me in Nevada City, having left Berkeley this morning. I'm staying with my old (non-theatre) friends Susan and Jerome,; it's pure coincidence that Nevada City also happens to be where Philip Sneed and several members of the CSF staff formerly worked-- at the Foothill Theatre Company, which had the franchise to produce Shakespeare at Tahoe for many years. Tomorrow's driving plan calls for me to have breakfast in Reno and make it as far as Salina or Green River, Utah tomorrow night.
Bracing (cold!) dip in the South Fork of the Yuba near Nevada City
I spent my last evening in the Bay Area seeing the final preview of California Shakespeare Theatre's Pericles, which opens tonight. This is a play to which I feel a strong connection, having directed it in Berkeley in 1979 and at American Players' Theatre in Wisconsin in 1999 (and acted in it in Colorado in 1973, my last season there, in a cast that included Anne and Sam Sandoe, both of whom are to be in Henry). I had mixed reactions to the Cal Shakes version: they got some things very right-- a charming, striking set, a Gower who was compelling and charismatic and had a lovely connection with the audience, a Cerimon scene (the reviving of Thaisa) that struck the right tone of mystery and magic. But I felt the show's success was marred by too many funny accents in the various ports of call, a giving in to the common temptation to play the management of the Mytilene brothel as twisted, unfunny grotesques, and a Pericles who I thought never rose to the stature that the play demands. Pericles is not a particularly strong character-- hence my own inclination to treat him as an Everyman figure, even to the point of dividing the role among three actors-- a man more acted on than acting; and if a single performer undertakes to play his decades-long arc, that actor has a difficult challenge to progress from the unformed callowness of the young prince to the mute despair of the aging king. I think it takes a pretty remarkable actor to bring it off. The production took the play seriously on its own terms, and I afford it respect for that. But it didn't touch for me that chord of deep joy that the Romances, at their best, can offer.