Three actors in ancient Greek oufits stand in a row. The woman in a gray robe, center, holds a document.
Idle Muse Theatre's Upon This Shore: A Tale of Pericles and the Daughters of Tyre Credit: Steven Townshend/ Distant Era

For scholars and dramatists, is there anything more alluring in theater than works dubbed impossible or unfinished or a problem? Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Shakespeare’s seldom-performed and dubiously credited (it is widely accepted that the Bard shares authorship with George Wilkins) Greek epic, is a flitting and genre-blending romantic adventure about humility, sex trafficking, incest, assassination, magic, and pirates. It provides a wide creative sandbox for adapter and director Evan Jackson in Idle Muse’s first production back from a multi-year pandemic hiatus. Vying for the hand of King Antiochus’s (Watson Swift) unnamed daughter (Caty Gordon), Pericles (Brendan Hutt) accepts a prize-or-death riddle challenge from the high ruler. When the answer reveals itself to be too insidious to say aloud, Pericles flees and sets out on a journey with more detours than he (or audiences) could ever imagine.

Upon This Shore: A Tale of Pericles and the Daughters of Tyre
Through 4/3: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM, The Edge Off Broadway, 1133 W. Catalpa, 773-340-9438, idlemuse.org, $20 ($15 students and seniors, $10 Thu industry nights).

Besides the siren song of a deep cut, there’s an obvious draw to producing a story in 2022 about a protagonist who, instead of railing against the tides of fate, accepts the twists and turns thrown his way by the gods, ultimately to his own happy-ish ending. Jackson’s adaptation trims nearly an hour off the running time and thins the character list down to a more comprehensible brigade for double and triple-casting. But despite a still-sprawling cast of enthusiastic players, there’s an indelible English Department-production vibe to Idle Muse’s staging of Upon This Shore, where critical lines of dialogue are swallowed, major developments are easily missed or misinterpreted, and subversive directorial impressions are left so modestly that they come across more as footnotes.