BWW Review: THE COMEDY OF ERRORS - Austin Shakespeare's Hilarious Take On The Bard
Austin Shakespeare continues its 34 year tradition of bringing free Shakespeare to Zilker Park with an hilarious take on THE COMEDY OF ERRORS.
One of William Shakespeare's early works, THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, his shortest play, uses mistaken identity with not one but two sets of twins that keeps the action going around in circles until the final moments. Egeon (Marc Pouhé) a merchant of Syracuse, has traveled to busy seaport Ephesus looking for his long lost son when he is arrested, anyone from enemy Syracuse found in Ephesus must be put to death. He explains that years ago he was traveling with his infant twin sons and their twin servants when a shipwreck separates the family. The Duke Solinus (Catherine Grady) shows little mercy and has the merchant thrown in jail. We are soon introduced to Antipholus (Tony Salinas) of Syracuse who has arrived with his servant Dromio (Hannah Rose Barfoot) also looking for his long lost sibling. After sending his servant on an errand Antipholus meets Dromio of Syracuse (Madison Weinhoffer) who thinks that this is his master, Antipholus (Toby Minor) of Syracuse. Confused yet? With angry wife, Adriana (Katherine Lozano), goldsmith Angelo (Kristofer Adkins), Dr Pinch (Jesus Valles) an exorcist, a Courtesan (Roxy Becker) and an Abbess (Alison Stebbins) with a secret, hilarity, as they say, ensues and all see a happy ending.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS is one of my favorites for several reasons. It is easily Shakespeare's silliest comedy, with so many ways for the characters to be confused, its naturally funny. It's also the most slapstick of his plays, the Dromios are naturals for low physical comedy. Austin Shakespeare Guest Director Robert Ramirez hits every note in this freewheeling farce. Every entrance and exit is perfectly timed and calculated for maximum effect. Cast standouts include, Barfoot and Weinhoffer as the twin servants, they sync their gestures so well I had to look hard to know the difference between them. Jesus Valles as Dr Pinch is hilariously pompous and cowardly in turns. The always amazing Marc Pouhé doesn't disappoint in a role smaller than he is used to, he makes Egeon's long (usually boring) exposition speech feel as if he were reciting an Homeric epic. Roxy Becker as the Courtesan gets big laughs with her bawdy performance. But it's the Antipholus brothers, Salinas and Minor who bring the show to roaring life. Both actors are outstanding in any role, but with their combined gift for physical comedy they shine as the separated siblings. It is a treat to watch them both do what they do best, entertain audiences and hold our rapt attention. Lighting by Patrick Anthony is beautiful in the difficult setting of the Zilker Hillside Theatre. Microphones worn by the actors were a bit iffy on the night I attended, but I'm certain the technical error will be corrected by the second weekend of the run.
I give my highest recommendation to Austin Shakespeare's THE COMEDY OF ERRORS at the Zilker Hillside Theatre for a laugh out loud evening of comedy. The show is free, so splurge on a picnic, take a blanket and enjoy Austin's cool spring weather and a great show.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS
by William Shakespeare
Zilker Hillside Theatre, Austin
May 4 - 28, Thursday thru Sunday at 8:00 PM
Running Time: 2 hours with one 15 minute intermission
Tickets: FREE, details at austinshakespeare.org