Romance at the Folger

Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a little-known play by William Shakespeare—so little known, in fact, that I searched for a copy in two very good bookstores in the District in vain. The Folger Theatre has done a great service by giving the public an opportunity to get to know this curious, entertaining work.

Pericles begins with Gower (Armando Duran), who tells us that he has come “to sing a song that old was sung.” Gower himself has arrived “from ashes … assuming man’s infirmities.” We are hearing a story of old, told by a dead man. Shakespeare thereby disposes his audience for romance, in an older sense of the word: a story that deals with concerns remote from our everyday existence.