The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors is a challenging Shakespeare play to stage – it requires a deft touch whether you play it for laughs or more seriously. It is one of the bard’s less nuanced plays and so can easily become overblown or trivial. Whilst it is admirable that the young performers of Dramawise Sky Blue Theatre have attempted this difficult play, their performance is not entirely successful.

Credit needs to be given to the cast for tackling such a challenging show.

The play is a classic comedy of mistaken identities. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio have come to Ephesus, without knowing that their long-lost identical twins (also called Antipholus and Dromio) are also there. A host of misunderstandings and confusions follow, as the twins are constantly mistaken for each other.

The company have opted for a pantomime approach to the show - the Dromios, for example are dressed as clowns, painted signs are held up on stage and the characters frequently emphasise the slapstick comedy elements of the play. It is these moments when the play is at its best. Some of the performers are excellent physical comedians, and the instances of slapstick violence are handled well. There are also some clever directorial choices - for example, dressing the twins in near-identical clothes but with different coloured shirts was inspired, as it emphasised their similarity without becoming confusing.

However, there are several major flaws that hinder the show. First, the company has made the bizarre choice of including popular music at every possible opportunity - the play opens with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, and closes with the cast inexplicably dancing to Uptown Funk. These songs are unjustified and positively distracting, particularly as they often are played in the middle of scenes, drawing our attention away from the characters. Further, some of the characters struggle with performing the Shakespearean language, and often lines are lost or delivered unconvincingly. However, this is forgivable, given the young cast.

Credit needs to be given to the cast for tackling such a challenging show, and generally they do a good job - there are some strong performances and genuinely funny moments here. Nevertheless, this is far from a perfect show, and is filled with errors as much as comedy.

Reviews by Mark Danciger

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The Comedy of Errors

★★★

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Performances

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The Blurb

Take one pair of estranged twin brothers (both called Antipholus), one pair of estranged twin servants (both called Dromio) and keep them in ignorance of each other. Throw them into a city with a reputation for sorcery and you have all the ingredients for theatrical chaos. One Antipholus is accused of being mad whilst the other Antipholus gains a wife he never knew he had. A classic Shakespeare fiasco where romance goes hand in hand with comedy. Will delight audiences with romance, humour and the classic case of mistaken identity.

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