The Comedy of Errors is tremendous fun. The entire cast is terrific in one of Shakespeare's earliest, shortest and most farcical plays. In particular, Nathan O'Keefe brings charm and playfulness as well as fine delivery as Antipholus of Syracuse and Director Imara Savage's inventive take on the tale brings it into the contemporary world, with fashionista's, beanies, table tennis, white goods and border security.
Savage accentuates the ‘comedy’ of the title while handling the opening exposition in an excellent fashion. She has Egeon of Syracuse (Eugene Gilfedder) alone on stage. Condemned to death he explicates his life story. He came to Syracuse in search of one of his identical twin sons (both children are named Antipholus), who was separated from in a shipwreck. With his son is a servant named Dromio who is also searching for his twin brother. The Duke is so moved by Egeon's tale that he grants the old man twenty-four hours to raise the thousand-mark ransom that is required to save his life.
Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which happens to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. These two sets of twins mooch the same city without meeting for one zany day and night, as manifold mistaken identities drives the hilarious disorder of unfair thrashings, sexual misadventures, and fallacious indictments, lead to a splendid climax.
The hilarity takes place before a wall of double doors which at various times portray: immigration, sex clubs, houses and even a confessional while allowing for lots of slapstick and ubiquitous chase scenes and for the audience to spy the twins roaming Ephesus, unaware of their mirror images. The result is genuinely, rib-achingly funny.
Anthony Taufa plays the Duke like Marlon Brando's Don Vito Corleone. Eugene Gilfedder plays Egeon with appropriate gravitas and Demitrios Sirilas is fabulous as the hyper-emotional goldsmith Angelo. Elena Carapetis is wonderful as Adriana – the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus – sashaying about in leopard skin high heels, looking stunning and even more adorable when she's angry or jealous. Jude Henshall is inspired as Adriana's unmarried sister Luciana and it's impossible to forget her uproarious performance as she fends off a suitors advances while she's sitting on the washing machine during its spin cycle. Hazem Shammas and Renato Musolino both play their Domio's to great comic effect and Suzannah McDonald is sublime as the courtesan whom she plays like Elle Woods complete with pink dress, handbag and unseen Bruiser but as Emelia she is subtle which makes her character especially amusing.
The ensemble is infiltrated with more than a dash of Greek or Mediterranean heritage which emphasises the stories time and place and also somehow adds to the bizarre perplexity in the plot and the comic mayhem.
Savage and her players have produced a joyful, light and frothy comedy that's gloriously modern, confident and fabulously funny. This reviewer cannot wait to see this wonderful play again.
State Theatre Company of South Australia and Bell Shakespeare present
The Comedy of Errors
by William Shakespeare
Director Imara Savage
Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Dates: 28 Jun – 14 Jul, 2013
Tickets: $55 – $25