BWW Reviews: STC's HOLIDAY OF ERRORS Makes for a Nicely Naughty Holiday Diversion
Take equal parts Dickens and Shakespeare, add in a healthy spoonful of historical tom-foolery, the zest from a bawdy queen and stir it up til you don't know one play from another and you'll have the latest outing from one of the more impressive small theater companies in town, Sound Theatre Company, with their World Premiere of "Holiday of Errors". And while it may get slightly muddled at times and take just a bit to get started, if you sit back and let the ridiculousness of it wash over you, you're bound to have a good time.
In this brand new work from Frank Lawler and Daniel Flint, Shakespeare (Lawler) is at the end of his theatrical rope. The theaters have all been closed and no money is coming in, so he's decided to pack it in and go home to the country. Suddenly a slightly delayed edict comes in from Queen Elizabeth (Elinor Gunn) commissioning him to write something for Twelfth Night, and Shakespeare and his troupe must come up with a show in 12 days that will please the queen and somehow convince the government to keep the theaters open. With little time Shakespeare thinks if he can just rewrite Richard III he can pull it off. But when the ghost of Kit Marlow (Daniel Stoltenberg) shows up and a gender bending page (Marianna de Fazio) tries to woo the Queen on behalf of his master (Ian Bond), events leading up to Twelfth Night begin to look more like the play of "Twelfth Night" mixed up with "A Christmas Carol".
Lawler and Flint have come up with a wonderfully ribald tale that amounts to a very fun evening. And while much of the play is Shakespeare, there's nothing high brow about this show as it goes for every dick joke it can find. But beyond the innuendos they also managed to pack in jokes to appeal to the Shakespeare nerds out there. Sometimes it might have been a bit specialized to those nerds but they know their audience. And Director Teresa Thuman keeps the antics and insanity clipping along at a breakneck pace with delightful result.
But it's the cast that pulls off this crazed show and, with a few minor timing hiccups, pull it off they do. The entire ensemble is quite good but there were some people to whom attention must be paid. Gunn takes the Queen beyond just a randy monarch and layers in a kind of manic intelligence that allowed her to walk off with every scene. Lawler makes a wonderful straight man trying to keep these cats herded together. Also playing off the insanity is the delightful de Fazio who manages a lot of the plot in the piece without ever becoming "exposition girl". Stoltenberg tackles the mincing foppishness of Marlow perfectly and elicited giggles on each entrance and Matt Fulbright as the lead player Richard Burbage lends an adorable air of dense naiveté to the role.
When all is said and done it's just plain fun and another palpable hit for Sound Theatre Company as well as a charming addition to the holiday show genre. Everyone tries to create the holiday alternative show and Lawler and Flint have come up with one that has the potential to become a staple, not just here but all over the country.
"Holiday of Errors" performs at the Center Theatre through December 21st. For tickets or information visit them online at www.soundtheatrecompany.org.