The Pattern of Painful Adventures
by Stephen Wakelam

BBC Radio 3: Drama on 3

Broadcast: Sunday 23rd November 2008 @ 8:00 p.m.

"The Pattern of Painful Adventures" is a radio play on the circumstances surrounding William Shakespeare's writing of the play "Pericles, Prince of Tyre" and the sickness of his brother Edmund's child, told in flashback by his daughter Susannah, playwright John Marston and William's secretary, Robinson. It links the play to the marriage of Susannah and the birth of her daughter and to the similar themes of daughters, forests, storms, shipwrecks and lost infants from "As You Like It", "The Winter's Tale" and "The Tempest". It is named after "The Pattern of Painful Adventures", a main source for "Pericles".

It's 1607 as the play opens and the Bard's life is at a turning point. Business is going well, but Will Shakespeare urgently needs a collaborator for his latest play. To make matters more complicated, his beloved daughter is getting married and his brother has a sick child and is in need of a job.

With Antony Sher [William Shakespeare], Helen Longworth [Susannah Shakespeare], Will Keen [Jack Robinson], Stephen Critchlow [John Marston], Chris Pavlo [George Wilkins], Joseph Kloska [Edmund Shakespeare], John Rowe [Richard Burbage], and Robert Lonsdale [William Ostler / Robert Johnson].

Directed by Jeremy Mortimer

90 min.

Laurence Joyce, RT reviewer: It's 1607 and William Shakespeare is suffering from a severe case of writer's cramp. His brother Edmund is living with a whore and his daughter Susannah is about to marry, but the Globe needs fresh plays and Shakespeare's inability to hold a quill means he's forced to farm out some of the writing. Stephen Wakelam's imaginative drama gives us the backstage lowdown on George Wilkins, a freelance hack and brothel owner engaged to help rehash an old story, "The Painful Adventures", into what will become "Pericles". The script has plenty of "in" jokes for Shakespeare fans to spot, and Antony Sher is on good form as the Bard, though it's the superb John Rowe, as the actor Richard Burbage, who has some of the best lines. Not surprising, really, because these were written by William Shakespeare. Weren't they?


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