Theatre: Pericles

Rarely do you get a chance to Shakespeare play above a pub that is this ambitious and this good. Exciting young company Pistachio Choice has come up with the madcap idea of staging the lesser-performed epic in the Drayton Arms’ intimate space with only four actors and hardly any set. It’s part of a double-bill along with the similarly under-produced Cymbeline. It shouldn’t work. It should be tedious – but it isn’t. It’s delightful.

Drew Mulligan’s modern interpretation is imaginative and slick, and he directs stand-out performances from Emma Carroll, Stephen Connery-Brown, Ruth Rogers and Tim Wyatt. It’s the kind of production that lives or dies on the strength of its cast and they morph from one touchingly well observed character to the next with the lightest of touches and some well-timed dashes of humour.

Valentina Ricci’s punchy design – where a tweed jacket becomes a suit of armour and a transparent sheet the swirling folds of the ocean – makes everyday objects profound and beautiful. Lighting from Jack M Weir, music from Jamie Reid and hauntingly sung sea shanties richly evoke the atmosphere of life at sea.

Violence, prostitution, incest, attempted rape and magic make Pericles’ adventure from ancient Greece to distant lands a salacious and thrilling tale, but not one without heart and morality – as this stunning little production effortlessly shows.

Drayton Arms, London. Until 02 March

Written for The Stage

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