Review: Jobsite's 'Pericles'

By Sally Bosco
Aug.13, 2009

Be ready to get blown away by Jobsite's adaptation of Shakespeare's Pericles. I was completely in awe of Joe Popp's punk version of Macbeth in 1997 for American Stage's Shakespeare in the Park series, and this production didn't fail to delight me just as much. It's fun, quirky, and energetic.

The original Pericles has plot that is convoluted, at best, and Neil Gobioff and Shawn Paonessa do a fine job in loosely using the Bard's framework in this Soprano-esque tale of incest, murder and surrealism.

The plot is this: Perry angers local mob leader Fat Tony, by guessing his secret, that he is having an incestuous relationship with his daughter. After threats from Fat Tony, Perry runs off to Coney Island to make his fortune. When Perry learns that Fat Tony has sent hit man Nico to kill him, Perry escapes by boat. The boat is lost at sea and Perry washes up on Cape Cod to the ravishing visage of Talia, daughter of a local blueblood. Perry instantly falls in love with Talia, but her father doesn't want her consorting with the low-born Perry. Perry wins a boat in her father's golf tournament and they use the boat to escape. There's a maritime accident in which Talia dies. Their daughter lives, but he leaves her with friends in Coney Island. The story goes on with some deliciously bizarre turns.

The second half of the show really gears up with some of the most rocking songs in the production. There's an awesome finale, "We're still here," during which photos from Jobsite's past shows are flashed in the background to celebrate their ten-year anniversary.

Stephen Ray nails the part of Perry, the reluctant mob guy, and Ami Sallee Corley plays Talia with conviction and passion. Chris Perez, who plays Fat Tony, is particularly funny when he plays Talia's country club dad. Surprise standout is Amy E. Gray, who plays several parts, including Talia's friend and a nun. She belts out a number during Perry's surrealistic dream sequence in a monastery that has the audience rocking. Also, Katie Castonguay shows enthusiasm, energy, personality and freshness in her role as the tough-as-nails call girl with business sense.

The music by Joe Popp, Brian McCabe, Taylor Durand is the highlight of the show. Joe Popp functions as narrator, sings and plays killer guitar in a raised cage-like area in the back right part of the stage. Though he is playing over a recording of drums and bass, you'd never really know it, because it all sounds great, and the music is really bad-ass. He has a commanding stage presence and I found myself watching him as much as the actors.

Director, David Jenkins, pulls this diverse cast together wonderfully. Set and Lighting Director Brian Smallheer is to be commended for his inventive use of video on a small screen at the back of the stage to portray background activity. It showed settings and events they couldn't have possibly reenacted on stage, like crushed cars, and some retro Coney Island footage that was a real hoot.

Pericles is a rare commodity, an original rock musical, put together by the raw energy and talent of a group of committed artists at a local theater. They went out on a limb to produce this edgy, possibly controversial show. It works, and there's nothing canned or fake about it. Turn off the television and go see Pericles.

Also See:

Jobsite's Pericles Rocks the Bay – Creative Loafing

'Pericles' rock musical makes Bard's tale sing – Tampa Tribune

'Pericles' pops, thanks to Joe Popp – St. Petersburg Times

Pericles, Prince of Tires – Reax Music

Patron Reviews