William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is an entertaining farce about two sets of identical twins separated at birth whose worlds accidentally collide in the city of Ephesus. This instigates a hilarious adventure of mistaken identity and human folly. Fantastically directed by Taibi Magar, the twelve member cast takes us along on this ninety minute ride bursting with laughter and music to the point that we in the audience may forget we are watching a play written over four hundred years ago.
This production is a modernized version, however, I’m not going to tell you when it takes place or where, but I will say that the accents they are using are spectacular and make the already humorous script even better. Before the play even begins cast members are out and about on the stage and in the audience chatting with and engaging the audience in whatever they are currently doing such as dancing or playing a game. It is here that the audience starts to get drawn into the world of the play. Music (designed/composed by Stowe Nelson) and costuming (designed by Tilly Grimes) helps transport us back into time so when the play begins we are excited, engaged and ready to laugh.
I was nervous when I first heard this play was to be a modernized version as those versions could easily butcher the story, the lines and the characters in a way that would have Shakespeare rolling over in his grave. Luckily, this version shows exactly how modernized interpretations should be done. The cast is compiled of Shakespeare and Company veterans: Kelley Curran (Adriana), Cloteal L. Horne (Luciana), Malcolm Ingram (Egeon), Josh Aaron McCabe (Dr. Pinch/Duke Solinus), Christianna Nelson (Abbess), Douglas Seldin (Luce), and Michael F. Toomey (Angelo). As well as newcomers: Aaron Bartz (Dromio of Ephesus/Dromio of Syracuse), Ben Chase (Officer/Merchant), Jenelle Chu (Courtesan), Ian Lassiter (Antipholus of Ephesus/ Antipholus of Syracuse), and Daniel Rios Jr. (Merchant). They all portray their characters with truth, charisma and sheer brilliance. They breathe life into these characters in a way that I don’t think anyone has ever dared to do before and it has completely paid off. The chemistry amongst the cast was fantastic which clearly demonstrates how much work went into this play. Even though they were speaking lines written hundreds of years ago, their modern mannerisms, dialect, movement, and expressions enabled everyone in the audience to understand not only the lines they spoke, but exactly what was occurring in the story at any given time.
The creative team on this production, some of whom I’ve already mentioned, did a brilliant job bringing this play into a more modern age. Movement and Choreography were wonderfully done by Jesse Perez who kept things upbeat and fun. Set and Properties Designer John McDermott created a unique space that was complimented by great lighting, designed by Matthew Miller. I applaud the creative team and cast for their incredible work on this production. It is by far one of the best I have seen in years and I am thrilled to have been in the audience on opening night. Furthermore, I would gladly see this show again; which is a statement I rarely make!
If there is one show you see this summer I highly suggest you make that show The Comedy of Errors. Suitable for anyone; whether you are familiar with the work of Shakespeare or you are seeing one of his plays for the first time, this show is the perfect choice. The Comedy of Errors plays through August 23rd in the Tina Packer Playhouse at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, MA. Tickets and more information can be found at www.shakespeare.org
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