Life is good
Shakespeare's "Pericles" is like a comic book hero whose incredible talent, intelligence, charm, and good luck stretch and shrink like an accordion for every situation. Here's how a typical day starts out for Pericles (and turns into a "typical" saga): Get up, shower, brush teeth, go into office and solve the puzzle of the day. Then, try to figure out what to do with the answer since right and wrong solutions both have dangerous consequences.
Next, do something to get your mind off of everything. Maybe see a movie. Find someone to work for you while you're gone. Talk to your shrink for three hours about confronting fears and coping with anxiety. Nod your head but later just run like "The Fugitive." Definitely stop thinking about your crush on the princess. Go on a cruise and discover others who've hit some tough times. Being a nice guy and all, offer them with your endless store of grain, which you always pack for occasions such as these. Hey, Boy Scouts said to be prepared (even for famine).
Hop back on ship. Feel good until a storm rolls in. Get shipwrecked: No way! You're the ship's only survivor. Good thing the Coast Guard comes. After chatting, accompany them on a visit with their friends and relatives (they seem cool, after all). Arrive just in time for some sports.
OK, now all of that working out in the YMCA pays off. Enter and win the in-progress tournament. Attend a fancy dinner and wow! Meet princess Thaisa. Turn on characteristic charm and win hand of a much more attractive princess than first infatuation. Soon after dating and a blissful engagement, enjoy a wonderful wedding. Ah, contentment! Together have a baby, who, with her parents' combined genes, will probably be the cutest daughter ever (you like the name "Marina").
But everything falls apart. You knew things were too good. You get depressed when your lovely wife dies in childbirth. Take advice from sailors and treat Thaisa to seaworthy burial. After all, you're onboard a ship. So go ahead, toss her casket into a watery grave. Listen to some self-help tapes about grief. Later, bring your daughter to daycare so you can deal with CNN's breaking news that says loathsome dictator and daughter both found dead. Sigh of relief. Celebrate with pint of ice cream. Spend following days watching TV, reading, some working and watching daughter grow. Later, tearfully send off daughter to school and wonder where the time went.
Hit bottom again when receiving word that Marina is dead. Now you feel totally alone. Take another trip. Grow a long beard. Stop briefly one day for lunch in small port. Meet a familiar face. Experience the most amazing miracle ever when the familiar face turns out to be Marina! She's not dead! Those bastards!
Feel grateful for her safety, but upset because she's been forced to work in a brothel. Luckily, you hear she's been helping her clients choose virtue. Whew! That's your girl.
Later, doze off with the Travel Channel on in the background. Have dreams seasoned with commercials for scenic Ephesus. Buy a new toothbrush and razor. Embark on voyage to Ephesus with daughter. Muse over incredible turn of events. Arrive in Ephesus and check into hotel. Change clothes, grab dinner downstairs and then marvel at a second amazing miracle when you spot dead wife sitting casually in the lobby. Reunion! Life is good.
Tu-Su Mar. 1-6; Tu-F 7:30 p.m., Sa 1 p.m. & 7:30 p.m., Su 1 p.m. & 7 p.m. Guthrie Lab, 700 N. 1st St. $26-$30. 377-2224, www.guthrietheater.org.