COMEDY OF ERRORS: William Shakespeare
RSC, Stratford Upon Avon
Runs: 2h 10m, one interval, till 06 10 (in repertory)
Review: Alexander Ray, 28 04 12
COMEDY OF ERRORS is a good-natured romp of a comedy. Many people over the ages have commented on the close relationship between comedy and tragedy. As if to prove this point, director Amir Nizar Zuabi, emphasises the violent society these characters inhabit. We are more aware than perhaps we have been before how dangerous the mistakes in this world are. For Ephesus is a comedic and threatening gangster-land.
Zuabi makes his point constantly but never too often.
The production opens with Egeus, not telling the story of his lost wife and sons, but with Solinus water-torturing it out of him. This is an Ephesus filled with guns, cuts and bruises, electrocution torture. The Antipholuses‘ frequent beating of their Dromios takes on a dark edge. This violence, so reminiscent of clowns like Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy, is discomfortingly funny. Even so, the comedy if full-bloodied. Verbal acuity and physical dexterity from this strong ensemble make certain of this.
Jonathan McGuinness and Stephen Hagan as the two Antipholuses drive the action along. Felix Hayes and Bruce Mackinnon, the two Dromios, create a perfect clowning pair. (Their doubles with Trinculo and Stephano in the partnering TEMPEST are a theatrical delight.) Kirsty Bushell and Emily Taaffe are very funny, and, in complementing each other perfectly, demonstrate they are greater than the sum of their parts.
Jon Bausor’s inventive designs create a bustling port and impress in their boldness.
At times, clarity is sacrificed to pace; however, the whole company supports the play world with great sincerity, drawing us into the characters’ lives. Effortlessly (it seems) the company turns a stock comedy ending into a truly moving experience. Domio of Ephesus’s line ‘Methinks you are my glass and not my brother’, as everyone finally finds their true identity, will last with me for a long time.
Antipholus of Ephesus: Stephen Hagan
Dromio of Ephesus: Felix Hayes
Adriana: Kirsty Bushell
Luciana: Emily Taaffe
Nell: Sarah Belcher
Messenger: Ankur Bahl
Egeon: Nicholas Day
Antipholus of Syracuse: Jonathan McGuinness
Dromio of Syracuse: Bruce Mackinnon
Emilia: Cecilia Noble
Solinus: Sandy Grierson
Merchants: Jan Knightley, Kevin McMonagle
Angelo: Sargon Yelda
Balthasar: Amer Hlehel
Courtesan: Amie Burns Walker
Doctor Pinch: Jonathan Slinger
Officer: Solomon Israel
Directed by: Amir Nizar Zuabi
Designed by: Jon Bausor
Lighting Designed by: Jon Clark
Music by Adem Ilhan
Sound by: Christopher Shutt
Fights by: Kev McCurdy
Company Text and Voice Work by: Michael Corbidge
Company Movement by: Naomi Said
Assistant Director: James Farrell
Music Director: Bruce O’Neil
Casting by: Hannah Miller