Through October 20
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS Studio Theatre/Stratford Festival
Think of Stratford’s “The Comedy of Errors” as politically correct slapstick.
It’s getting a hyper-kinetic production in one long act, in the Studio Theatre, a pit theater reminiscent of the Shaw Festival’s Court House Theatre.
As long as the show goes quickly, you don’t notice the inconsistencies in the plot.
Director Keira Loughran has twisted the story around, with drag, both for the duke and the more complicated story of Antipholus of Syracuse (Jessica B. Hill) and body servant Dromio of Syracuse (Beryl Bain).
There are two Dromios and two Antipholi.
If you have seen “Twelfth Night,” you will have heard another Shakespearean tangled story of twins who escaped a shipwreck.
And, if you had to read, in Latin, as I did, Plautus’ “Menaechmi,” you will have read one of the earliest farcical twins story, clearly a key source of this plot.
As Shakespeare did so often, the script is a mass of matching stories, from the deadly rivalry of Syracuse and Ephesus through the two sets of twins to the bad marital behavior of Antipholus of Ephesus (Qasim Khan) in consorting with commercial women of the town.
This is a very short play and Loughran plays it very rapidly, sometimes too rapidly.
Egeon (Gordon Patrick White) is a merchant of Syracuse who sneaks into Ephesus and is caught and that visit carries a death penalty imposed by the duke (Juan Chioran) who lets him wander the city looking for cash to pay the enormous penalty for his crime.
At the same time, two other Syracuse residents, Antipholus and Dromio come in to town, with Antipholus in drag so she can pose as a man in a society oriented that way.
We get the usual confusion of people mistaking the Syracuse Antipholus and the Syracuse Dromio for the locals, including the gold chain made by Angelo (Rodrigo Beilfuss) and given to the wrong Antipholus.
Over the course of the one day of the play, everything falls into place for Egeon, Antipholus and Antipholus, Dromio and Dromio, the Abbess (Sarah Dodd) and everyone involved in this tangled story.
I’ve always objected to these tinkered-with Shakespeare plays to meet some artificial goal of sexual or racial cast or production categories.
If the basic play is changed, there has to be a point to it and there isn’t here.
Fortunately, “The Comedy of Errors” remains an interesting story with some strong performances.
It could have been better.
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