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‘Pericles’ review: Trevor Nunn turns out bloated play

The cast of

The cast of "Pericles," directed by Trevor Nunn, plays at Theatre for a New Audience through March 27. Photo Credit: Gerry Goodstein

Trevor Nunn, the storied English director whose body of work ranges from big blockbuster musicals (“Les Miz,” “Cats”) to Shakespeare, has come to Theatre for a New Audience in Brooklyn to stage “Pericles,” a turbulent, often incoherent fantasy drama that many scholars believe was written only in part by the Bard.

This marks the first time that Nunn has directed a Shakespeare play with a U.S. company, although some of his London productions have toured the U.S. (like his “King Lear” with Ian McKellen). It is also one of the last Shakespeare titles that Nunn has yet to direct, with just two more to go.

“Pericles” is hardly in the same league as Shakespeare’s best work. Essentially a crude version of the late romance “The Winter’s Tale,” it revolves around a dignified prince who has adventures in multiple lands, endures more than one shipwreck and loses (but eventually reunites with) his wife and daughter.

Not surprisingly, a narrator (the excellent Raphael Nash Thompson) is employed to help guide the audience.

Nunn’s “Pericles” is an unusually lavish affair, with a 22-person cast, live music and rich, exotic-looking costumes. Alas, “Pericles” is not worthy of such large-scale production values. The three-hour show, though visually sleek and persuasively acted, comes off as bloated and tiresome, and Nunn’s edits to the text do not add much clarity.

By comparison, last season, the Public Theater presented a lean, 90-minute version which captured the play’s whirlwind spirit without getting too bogged down in the crazy plotting.

Christian Camargo (“Dexter”), sporting a forlorn “woe is me” look, gives an unexpectedly poignant and vulnerable performance in the title role. He is joined by a fine ensemble that includes performer-musicians from the PigPen Theatre Co.

If you go

“Pericles” plays through March 27 at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center. 262 Ashland Place, Fort Greene, tfana.org.

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