Theatre Review: The Comedy of Errors

Presented by State Theatre Company SA and Bell Shakespeare
Reviewed 2 July 2013

It is my opinion that many people over sanitise the Bard, they worry about the language and staying true to ‘the classics’. These people forget that real theatre is a living breathing thing and needs to relate to its audience. In Shakespeare’s heyday he knew this simple truth. His comedies were funny, bawdy and crude because that’s what his audience loved. Well, Bill is back!

I said to my companion on the night, “how am I going to explain this?” She laughed and said, “What’s your problem? Just tell them that it’s like the Umbilical Brothers met Monty Python on Hindley Street at 2am and decided to do Shakespeare!” and she’s right! It’s hilarious, crude, slapstick and very funny.

The story of two sets of identical twins and their parents separated soon after birth has had people laughing for hundreds of years. When Antipholous of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse visit Ephesus, the home of their brothers, a series of wild mishaps and mistaken identities ensues, resulting in beatings, near seduction, false arrest and much merriment. All is eventually resolved in the most unlikely of happy endings.

The set is a piece of genius. Shakespeare used a blank stage with a couple of entrances at the back; they have increased the number of doors, but work well with a basically blank stage. Full marks to the design team who made it very now, with a sun bed, ping-pong tables and a washing machine, whilst staying with the text and the original corny tale. Pip Runciman (designer), Mark Pennington (Lighting Designer) and David Heinrich (Composer and Sound Designer) have all worked together very well to create a seamless backdrop, for this farce.

Nathan O’Keefe and Septimus Caton play the Antipholous’ and their expressive acting makes them appear as very confused twins. Elena Carapetis as Adriana does an impression of a Shakespearian ‘Effie’, and is aided and abetted by Jude Henshall as her sister Luciana. Anthony Taufa is memorable as the Duke and Balthasar; his performance includes hints of the Godfather! Eugene Gilfedder as Egeon and Dr Pinch provides solid support, as does Demitrios Sirilas as Angelo. Suzannah McDonald gives a reliable performance as a Courtesan, but is very funny as Emilia!

The slapstick crown goes to the Dromio twins, Renato Musolino and Hazem Sahmmas, who could only be told apart when both were onstage. Their final scene, leaving the set was a highlight!

I always find that I need to attune my ear to the language at the beginning of one of these plays and this is very true with this. They talk very fast with almost an ocker sound, and it moves with such speed that your head spins. Not all Shakespeare fans will love this as much as I did. Some will think it lacks reverence, others that it lacks relevance. I say phooey. Bill would have loved it!

Reviewed by Fran Edwards

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Season: 28 June – 14 July 2013
Duration: 1hrs 45mins with no interval
Tickets: $29.00 – $55.00
Bookings: Book at BASS

Photo Credit: Photography by Matt Nettheim


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