Wednesdays With Will: Pericles Prince of Tyre

Pericles: Prince of Tyre

In the early 1980s, the BBC did the task of filming all 39 of Shakespeare’s plays. The result ended up giving us filmed versions of some of Shakespeare’s lesser known works that we might not get otherwise.

Pericles: Prince of Tyre is one of these plays. It is one of The Bard’s lesser plays, in fact there is quite a bit of dispute about how much, if any, part of Pericles Shakespeare actually wrote as it was not contained in the First Folio. Nevertheless it is part of the Thirty-Nine, so it counts.

Why Pericles? Well today is September 19, 2012 and the tenth anniversary of Talk Like A Pirate Day and Pericles is one of the few Shakespearean plays to utilize pirates, so it seemed like a natural fit.

Pericles: Prince of Tyre tells the story of Pericles who is, as you may have guessed, the prince of Tyre. The play opens in the court of Antiochus, king of Antioch, who has offered the hand of his daughter to anyone who can solve his riddle. Failure to do so will result in the courtier’s death. Pericles hears the riddle and instantly figures it out; Antiochus is having an incestuous affair with his daughter. If Pericles brings this to light, he will be killed but failure to guess will also result in his death. He asks for time to think about the riddle, and granted forty days but Antiochus sends an assassin to kill him.

Pericles flees home to Tyre but while there is advised to continue to run. Pericles does so and runs to Tarsus, where a famine is going on. Pericles is generous, sharing his grain that is on his ship and then he moves on. After one of Shakespeare’s famous storms, Pericles washes ashore and is rescued by some fishermen.

Cutting 5 acts down, Pericles wins the hand of a beautiful princess, Thaisa, goes back home to Tyre, loses his wife to another storm, and has his daughter kidnapped by pirates. He discovers his daughter working in a brothel (where she has managed to maintain her virginity) and after a visit from the goddess Diana, discovers his wife is still alive.

Okay, so now that the synopsis is out of the way, what did I think? Well I hate to say this because it’s a production from the famed BBC and has some great acting, but frankly it was boring. A play that features pirates, kidnapping, Greek goddesses, incest, assassins, and three shipwrecks is boring, but this one is. I wouldn’t recommend this production.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre





    1. You would think so! And maybe it’s some of the choices made by the BBC (like a close captioned like feature at the bottom of the screen that had the dialogue), maybe it was the quality of the YouTube video I was watching it on, maybe it was just part of that early 80s obvioiusly filmed on video quality, I’m not sure, but it just didn’t work for me.

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