BWW Review: THE COMEDY OF ERRORS at The Civic Plaza
William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, one of the playwright's earlier plays, involves an intricate plot that revolves around multiple instances of mistaken identities, slapstick humor, and the word play that Shakespeare is so well-known for. The cast of characters includes two sets of twins, both named Dromio and Antipholus respectively, are mistaken for one another. As the play begins, Dromio and Antipholus of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus where their siblings reside. These occurrences of mistaken identity, primarily by friends and family of Dromio and Antipholus of Ephesus, lead to wrongful beatings, seductions and near seductions, false arrests and accusations of theft, infidelity, and demonic possession.
After the cast of the production ran through warm ups to make sure the equipment was working properly, which consisted of simple vocal exercises, numbers, and some reciting of various bits of poetry, Martin Andrews gave a speech in character further informing the audience what to expect with the night's production. According to Andrews, as Dromio, Comedy of Errors is "all about you coming and completing the circle." In a way, this became a theme of the evening's production, and was easily seen in every aspect of Shakespeare on the Plaza's The Comedy of Errors.
Audience interaction with the cast members appeared to be one of the most important aspects of the show. A few examples of the audience interaction were as follows: both of the brothers, the servants Dromio, would ride scooters through the audience as they made their way around, younger audience member's ears were covered as some of the more possibly inappropriate jokes and double entendres were made, and the audience was instructed to blow up balloons and release them at the end of the show in celebration of the brothers being reunited with one another.
The fact that The Comedy of Errors was performed outside was also an important part of the production, allowing the natural setting to shine. On this night's production, the slight rainfall that occurred prior to the play lead to an enchanting atmosphere, which helped the audience lose themselves in the production. Dennis Elkins, the director, seemed to take care to incorporate the environment into the staging, making it as much of an integral part of The Comedy of Errors as the stage and props themselves. Cast members interacted with a car that was set up by a sponsor of Shakespeare on the Plaza, nearby the area marked off as the stage, and intermission was timed to coincide perfectly with sunset.
Each of the actors appeared to be comfortable in their roles, to the point where it seemed almost effortless to make the most of Shakespeare's language and jokes. Tait Alexander Peterson, who was Antipholus of Ephesus, and Matthew Van Wettering, who played Antipholus of Syracuse, expressed their characters' confusion and consistent anger at their mistaken identities so well that it was clear what it would be like to be in their positions. Ed Chavez and Martin Andrews, who played Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse respectively, held nothing back when it came to the slapstick humor, making use of props and the manhandling by other characters to elicit laughter from the audience. Pip Lustgarten, as Adriana, made the most of her character's irritation at what she believes to be her husband's infidelity and inattention, including having a few tantrums that were absolutely hilarious. Evening Star Barron, as Luciana, expressed outrage at who she believes to be her brother-in-law trying to seduce her, as well playing the supportive sister. With this cast of Comedy of Errors, there was no weak link among the actors. Everyone, no matter how small or large the role, played their parts to perfection.
The cast member's dedication, the direction and staging, as well as the audience interaction, helped to make this production embody the magic of theatre. Each member of the cast was clearly having fun with their roles and enjoying each moment they were up on stage. This made for a production of The Comedy of Errors that was nothing but pure entertainment and an example of live theatre at its finest.
The cast of Shakespeare on the Plaza's The Comedy of Errors included: Martin Andrews as Dromio of Syracuse, Evening Star Barron as Luciana, Ed Chavez as Dromio of Ephesus, Nick Ganjei as Angelo/First Officer, Pip Lustgarten as Adriana, Yannig Morin as Duke Solinus/Second Merchant, Tait Alexander Peterson as Antipholus of Ephesus, Crystal Twitty as First Merchant/Luce/Townsfolk, RoseAnne Vau as Abbess Aemilia, Matthew Van Wetterig as Antipholus of Syracuse, Rick Walter as Balthazar/Officer, John Wylie as Aegeon/Pinch, Amanda Davis as Courtsn/Townsfolk, and Kaitlyn Barlow as Jailer/Ensemble.