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A CurtainUp London Review
The Comedy of Errors
The play itself is Shakespeare less complex and less beautiful, but the licence, the freedom to turn it into a fun filled rumbustious romp is there. In fact this play can really only work well with plenty of physical comedy. Blanche McIntyre has so much talent that she gives us a thrilling, confident production full of athletic near misses as the two sets of twins get mistaken for each other.
A rather softly spoken and lugubrious James Laurenson presents the sad predicament of Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse here imprisoned and under death sentence in Ephesus who tells us of the loss of his wife and his twin sons, one lost in the shipwreck and the other in search of his brother. The Comedy of Errors is based on one of the Roman comedies of Plautus, comedies that were often based on mistaken identity and the exchange of identical twins.
The opening scene looks like a well financed operetta with Eastern costumes straight out of illustrations, paintings from the 16th century but the difference here is the standard of acting and direction. James Cotterill's set has numerous additional columns, pediments, balustrades and pots with brilliant surprises in store. We could be forgiven for thinking that The Globe has taken a leaf out of the Apollo's book! There are acrobatics with weighted chains and a battle with a giant squid. One Dromio (Brodie Ross and Jamie Wilkes), is constantly hit with a fish, battered by a cod we might assume.
Georgina Lamb is the choreographer and Kevin McCurdy the fight director responsible for so much elaborate physical comedy, but I suspect the clever ideas are Blanch McIntyre's. At one point we see two spare twins use their sweeping brooms as bats and a golden ornament flies between them and we all smile at the reference to Harry Potter's game of Quidditch. Who will ever forget the fake psychic Dr Pinch (Stefan Adegbola) with his four foot grey beard and spinning golden stave? There is complete pandemonium as they try to capture Antipholus of Ephesus (a delightfully energetic Matthew Needham).
The Ephesian wife Adriana (Hattie Ladbury) has a suitably chastening moment when she asks which Antipholus had dined with her the previous evening. Wryly divine for this complaining of wives. The whole cast give splendid performances and the elaborate side kicking dance at the finale is a treat. I was captivated by the opulent Eastern silks and brilliant costume design from James Cotterill. Open air theatre with autumn sunshine at The Globe doesn't get any better than this sparkling comedy!
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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