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BWW Review: COMEDY OF ERRORS at Blind Cupid Shakespeare Company


Bringing Shakespeare to International Audiences

BWW Review: COMEDY OF ERRORS at Blind Cupid Shakespeare Company Virtual Theatre became the norm as a result of COVID-19 but successfully turning this challenging medium into something that is not only watchable but also surprising, fun and entertaining can prove to be a Herculean task. Nevertheless, this is something that the Blind Cupid Shakespeare Company (BCSC) most certainly lives up to. Under JT Stock's beautiful direction, The Comedy of Errors/La Commedia degli Errori dares to go to lengths that most productions would never dare go to.

The play starts with a short improv in which a group of actors, on their way to the airport, find that some of them are not allowed to travel to the US, as the travel ban imposed by President Trump in 2020 is preventing them from doing so. Unable to be there physically, they instead decide to perform Comedy of Errors on zoom instead. Unfortunately, because of the high number of Italian actors in the cast, some of them haven't learned their lines in English, meaning that some characters are only able to speak in Italian (thankfully, subtitles are provided). This sets up the premise nicely and allows the audience to immediately understand the concept. Doing Shakespeare in two languages is a bold move and yet BCSC somehow makes it work. The very first scene has Duke Solinus (played with wonderful authority by Joe Staton) and Egeon (portrayed with perfect vulnerability by Stefano Guerrerio) speak to each other in the two different languages, the Duke struggling to understand Egeon's fast paced Italian and having to call for subtitles. The two actors completely nail this beginning and anyone who has ever had to communicate with people who speak a different language will certainly relate. I wish that Stefano Guerrerio had had more to do in the play, as he only appears in the beginning scene and then again at the end, yet both times his presence makes a deep impact. I'd be interested to see him in a leading role such as Hamlet or Brutus. Joe Staton, however, also plays Balthazar and Dr. Pinch, demonstrating his versatility as an actor by making each role unique in their own way. His rendition of Dr. Pinch especially was delightful and hilarious, showcasing how much he shines in classical comedy.

Adding another layer of boldness to this piece was the decision to have both sets of twins played by the same two actors, with Gianluigi Calvani playing both Antipholus' and Alice Lussiana Parente portraying both Dromios. In this version, the twins from Ephesus both speak English and those from Syracuse both speak Italian, which adds a wonderful layer to the mistaken identity aspects of the play and gives both actors a chance to shine in two languages, something that is rare to see in a Shakespeare play. It's also really nice to see actual Italian actors portraying Italian characters. Comedy of Errors is a tricky play because the audience always knows deep down that the so-called identical twins are played by different actors. In this case, however, having them both played by the same actors helps build a solid illusion. Alice Lussiana Parente uses her strong background in Commedia Dell'arte to create moments of comedic gold -- watching her is such a delight. Gianluigi Calvani similarly brings an effective energy to both his characters, making us roll with laughter at the character's antics and desperation. Perfect casting. Other highlights that deserve a mention include Gilda Mercado's Adriana and Elize Layton's Luciana. These two actors had wonderful chemistry and instantly made the audience fall in love with them. Ginevra Tortora's Angelo was also fun to watch and Frances Knight and Muge Karagulle, both of whom played multiple characters, illustrated their clear talents as character actors spectacularly. Not a single weak link was found.

Primarily based in the UK, The Blind Cupid Shakespeare Company has connections all over the world and are devoted to bringing Shakespeare to international audiences. The play was part of Sour Grapes Productions 'So Many Shakespeares 2021" festival and marks Blind Cupid's first full length production.

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From This Author Alison Bridget Chambers