BB: Pericles, Act IV

Artwork - Stephanie E.M. Coleman
Artwork – Stephanie E.M. Coleman

(Podcast recorded and produced by Daniel J. Rowe, blog written and edited byEric Jean)

Did you miss us? I bet you did!

The Bard Brawl is back and ready to come out swinging with this week’s recording of act IV of Pericles, Prince of Tyre!

Listen to or download the podcast. (And hey, it’s been a while so why no go back and read up on acts I, II and III?)

Once again, Gower’s prologue (starts with “Imagine Pericles arrived at Tyre”) open’s up the act. Pericles is back in Tyre. He thinks his wife is dead but she’s alive and living as a nun in Ephesus. Their daughter, Marina, is living in Tarsus with Cleon and Dionyza. There’s a but of a problem, though: Dionyza is jealous that Marina is better/more beautiful than her own daughter so she decides she’s going to have her killed.

That’s the scene which is presented to us in act IV, scene 1. Dionyza has hired Leonine to kill Marina. Dionyza tells maria to go take a walk with the man she has never met. Seems they head for the docks, based on what happens next. (So he can dump the body into the ocean maybe?) Anyhow, when Leonine grabs marina to kill her, a bunch of pirates (yay!) show and scare him off. Then, as pirates are wont to do, they claim her as booty and run off to their ship. Leonine figures he’s seen probably seen the last of her but decides that he’d best follow along. You know, to make sure that they kill her once they rape her.

As it happens, the pirates don’t rape her (if we believe Marina as well as the aptly named First Pirate). Instead we learn at the start of scene 2 that she has been sold to a brothel in Mytilene. The prostitute population of Mytilene is not what it used to be so Pandar, Bawd and Boult buy her figuring they can make a bunch of money by selling her virginity to some pervert. Of course, Marina isn’t planning to comply with this but they spread the word about town anyhow in search of a buyer.

Back to Tarsus where Dionyza breaks the news of Marina’s death to Cleon. He whines about what they’ll tell Pericles when he comes looking for his daughter but Dionyza basically says: tell him she dies. The end. While he seems about to argue with her, Dionyza seems pretty confident that the weak-willed Cleon will just do whatever she says. Yup.

Gower makes a surprise appearance in scene 4 (starts with “Thus time we waste, and longest leagues make short”) to narrate what happens next (see it only as a dumb show): Pericles goes to Tarsus where he learns his daughter is dead. He puts on some rags, vows never shave again, and heads out to sea once more. Gower closes with Marina’s epitaph – what was written by that harpy, Dionyza.

Scene 5 is a short exchange between two men, just outside the brothel in Mytilene. Apparently, someone in the brothel is showing sinners the errors of their ways. Huh. Now that is strange.

Of course, we find out in scene 6 that Marina is behind all of this, much to Pandar, Boult and Bawd’s chagrin. Seems she’s been converting the patrons to virtue. These pimps did manage to find a buyer for Marian: Lysimachus, the governor of Mytilene is very interested in Marina. They all try to convince Marina to give up the goods, but she resists. During her conversation with Lysimachus, he realises that she is noble-born and that she is the one pure thing in the city. Boult devices he’ll rape her so she’ll get over the whole virginity thing but he reminds him that Pandar and Bawd would kick his ass so he holds off for now.

Next week (no, really, we promise!) we’ll be back with the final act of this crazy rape-y, incest-filled play.

If you want to follow along the acts in a version of the play which is not so messed up, this is the app most of the brawlers use when we record. As a bonus, each play comes with a breakdown of scenes and characters. You should check it out.

Also, it’s always nice to have some Shakespeare with you at all times, in case you need an emergency soliloquy.

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