2010-07-08 / Dining & Entertainment
‘The Comedy of Errors’
First performed in 1594, the play is the Bard’s shortest; its story—a slapstick comedy about two pairs of twins separated at birth—was lifted from an ancient Roman comedy by Plautus called “Menaechmi.”
The light entertainment was perfectly suited for the Fourth of July weekend, during which weightier problems are set aside for parties, merrymaking and fireworks, and the Kingsmen of CLU delivered its own dazzling and incendiary exercise in comedic mayhem.
Director Kevin P. Kern incorporated a few modern devices, including a herald trumpeting the theme from “Superman” to announce the arrival of the Duke Solinus, and Matthew Henerson’s portrayal of the goldsmith Angelo with a broad Bronx/Jewish accent.
One set of twins, born to a merchant, is named Antipholus and the other set, born to a poor woman, is named Dromio. One Antipholus and servant Dromio are from Syracuse, the other duo from Ephesus.
Antipholus of Syracuse (Ross Hellwig) is traveling the world with Dromio of Syracuse (Will Shupe) in search of his long-lost brother and mother. Hellwig plays his role beautifully, with his bewilderment growing as he is mistaken by his brother’s wife and household for Antipholus of Ephesus.
Shupe is a flesh-and-blood cartoon character, a master of dialect and a pratfalling genius. His description of his homely wife in Act I is the stuff of standup Borscht Belt comics.
Nimble, acrobatic, and screamingly funny, Shupe tumbles, darts about, runs into stationary objects and shrieks like a wild animal.
None of this manic behavior is out of character for Dromio, who is one of the looniest creatures in Shakespeare’s plays. Not far off is his equally crazed brother, Dromio of Ephesus, played by Eric Bloom.
Wearing masks, they are the mirror image of each other, and Bloom has his share of maniacal fits as well.
The household of Antipholus of Ephesus includes Adriana, Antipholus’ wife, played by Amber Bonasso, and her spinster sister, Luciana, played by Rebekah Brockman. In the best tradition of knockabout drawing room comedy, Bonasso and Brockman are wellbalanced in their respective roles.
The funniest scene is the elaborately choreographed sword fight in Act II that plays out like a Daffy Duck/Elmer Fudd cartoon.
Others in the cast include John Herzog as Egeon, the elderly father of the Antipholus brothers, and Marc Silver as Duke Solinus. The multitiered set allows for much cavorting, and appearing and disappearing of characters. Sound effects such as a backstage slide whistle accompanying the passage of time make the proceedings even livelier.
The characters extend their screwball behavior into the audience, dragging a small boy on stage to be briefly used as a prop and running up and down the aisles.
If one decides to introduce a youngster to the works of Shakespeare, “The Comedy of Errors,” with its nonstop action, broad comedy and colorful, whackedout characters, is a perfect choice.
“The Comedy of Errors” continues through July 18. Visit www.kingsmenshakespeare.org for information and tickets or call (805) 493-3455.