(Alexis Soloski’s article appeared in The New York Times, 11/24.)
Last summer, the radio host Ira Glass prompted a Twitter tempest when he attended the Public Theater’s lackluster “King Lear” and tweeted: “No stakes, not relatable. I think I’m realizing: Shakespeare sucks.”
Maybe Mr. Glass saw the wrong Shakespeare play.
The theater’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit has just returned “Pericles, Prince of Tyre” to Lafayette Street, having toured the production to homeless shelters, community centers and correctional facilities — reaching audiences who can’t spend a day standing in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets. Few Bardolators would argue that “Pericles” is the equal of “Lear” in poetry or power. It has a clunky, outmoded framing device, and its plot, which involves multiple shipwrecks, an unlikely resurrection and some extremely polite brothel customers, is tough to respect. But this 100-minute show (about half the length of “Lear”) is feisty and involving. And while I’ve never believed that great art has to be “relatable,” the audience members who watched the final act of “Pericles” with tears in their eyes seemed to find it so.