BWW Review: COMEDY OF ERRORS Closes the Season at Davis Shakespeare Festival
Davis Shakespeare Festival (DSF) is closing out their 2019 season with Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare's earliest and shortest works. This adaptation was born of a project by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival called Play On Shakespeare in which playwrights are challenged with making the Bard's works relatable to a wider audience by modernizing the language and adding their own flair. Playwright Christina Anderson has succeeded in bringing a fresh and vital version of this work to life and the artists at DSF have personalized it more by introducing some gender switching in a funky 70s setting.
Admittedly, I'm somewhat of a purist when it comes to Shakespeare. I love the beauty of the language (complete with the challenges of understanding it) and the period costumes. That being said, the cast sold me on this version with their vitality and impeccable delivery of 17th century slapstick humor. This is a show that anyone can follow and, even with the modernization, still benefit from the exposure to Shakespeare's works.
Comedy of Errors is a hilarious take on mistaken identity-two sets of twins separated in infancy who, unbeknownst to them, are in each others' midst and wreaking havoc in the town of Ephesus because of the inability to tell them apart. Antiphola (changed to a female from Antipholus) is the daughter of a merchant from Syracuse. She and her servant, Dromio, travel to the town of Ephesus in search of her twin and mother. DSF Artistic Director Gia Battista plays the Antipholas, digging into each twin with a fervor that showcases the personality traits of each. I felt the naivete and sensitivity of Antiphola of Syracuse and a hardness and greed from her counterpart of Ephesus. Complementing the master/servant duo is a personal favorite from the area, Ian Hopps. As both Dromio of Syracuse and Ephesus, Hopps' grasp of Shakespeare and natural comedic talent make him a joy to watch and a draw to patrons. Rounding out the small but mighty cast are Daniel Sugimoto (an unforgettable Monty in this summer's A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder), Philomena Block, Martin Lehman, Tim Gaffaney, and Lisa Halko. Costume design by Caitlin Cisek and sound by Richard Chowenhill further work together to transport the audience in a crazy time machine to a groovy 1620s/1970s fusion.
Comedy of Errors is closing out the 9th season of the Davis Shakespeare Festival and will play at the Veterans Memorial Theatre in Davis through October 13. Tickets may be purchased at www.shakespearedavis.org.
Photo credit: Yarcenia Garcia