(Miriam Gillinson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/30.)
Has the National Theatre ever felt as open, compassionate and heartfelt as this? Pericles can be one of Shakespeare’s more difficult plays, notoriously uneven and elusive, but this musical adaptation is a joy. It is the first production in the National Theatre’s Public Acts scheme, and boasts a community chorus of about 200 amateur actors, dancers and musicians. But what might have been a total mess turns out to be mesmerising: a giddy celebration of humanity and our endless capacity for warmth, togetherness and love.
The huge ensemble cast floods Fly Davis’s elegantly sweeping set with performers of all ages, abilities and ethnicities. Emily Lim has corralled the chorus brilliantly but she hasn’t polished the life out of them. Nervous smiles flash towards the audience and Shakespeare’s play feels so much more authentic and touching for it.