Was Pericles written by Shakespeare and a co-author? No one knows for sure, but what is certain is that this is one of the oddest plays in the Bard’s acknowledged canon of work. It has a vast geographical sweep of locations, an epic plot, and 47 characters. An ambitious project to be taken on by a cast of seven actors in the bijou confines of the Burton Taylor Theatre, but they have pulled it off jolly well. Student company Screw the Looking Glass have brought flair and inventive ideas to this production, directed and designed by Edwina Christie.

The entire back wall of the theatre was covered in brown paper on which members of the cast wrote with a marker pen to denote where the action was currently taking place. So we could skip quickly from Tarsus, Tyre, Mytilene and other exotic locations as we followed the trials and tribulations of Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

He begins his misadventures in Antioch, trying to win the hand of their Princess — not realising that her incestuous father plots to murder any potential suitors. He escapes to Tarsus where he relieves a famine and continues on to be shipwrecked in Pentapolis. There he woos and wins the Princess Thaisa. They set off for his homeland but she (appar-ently) dies in giving birth to their daughter Marina during another violent sea storm — there are a lot of those in this play!

It’s a plot rich in betrayal, loss, goodness and redemption whose convolutions are told with admirable clarity by the cast, who play multiple roles using the simplest of devices to establish identities. Luke Howarth bought an attractive quiet strength to Pericles while Constance Greenfield captured Marina’s goodness with wit and charm. Aoife Cantrill, Dominic Applewhite, James Moore, Nathan Ellis and Ariel Levine provide solid and often hilarious support as lots and lots of different characters including nobles, pirates, fishermen and brothel keepers.

This Pericles was lots of fun — as long as you didn’t take it too seriously.

Burton Taylor Theatre, Oxford