From here the play moves to the far end of the city of Ephesus where the merchant’s son, and the servant boy who went with him, come ashore at the exact part of the city where his twin brother and twin servant boy have been living all this time. As they maneuver through the city the merchant’s son encounters his servant’s twin and his own servant encounters the merchant’s son’s twin. Neither of them realize their error and a series of satirical events ensues as information and requests are misinterpreted. As expected with Shakespeare, the characters are brought to the brink of mayhem before they discover the illusion.
As audience members we are several steps ahead of the characters, which left in the wrong hands risks diminishing the elements of intrigue and discovery. Bellis, however, makes sure we sit transfixed throughout the journey. Bellis spices up the characters, transitions, and dialogue with homages to classic films and nuances from contemporary society.
Nell, the cook (Andrew McNee), looks strikingly like the albino from The Princess Bride’s pit of despair and has a similar demeanor, which audience members quickly picked up on, and the Abbess enters like the giant approaching the gates. Then there was the scene with the enormous Venus flytrap (albeit with backwards cilia) that was right out of Little Shop of Horrors. Laser guns and puppetry widen the arena for the actors and draw some of the biggest laughs for the show. The show is true to Shakespeare’s text but the physicality of the actors, the delivery of lines, and the interpretation of text make it fresh and exciting.
The detail of Malcolm Dow’s sound design is intriguingly intricate and plays like a character unto itself: a sound track you could listen to all on its own.
Pam Johnson’s scenery design coupled with Mara Gottler’s Steampunk inspired costume design gives the show a magical quality that brings you into a world where anything is possible.
As with all the Bard shows, amplifying the actors’ voices is often a great assistance but can be tricky because it leaves the audience with no immediate indication of who is speaking. It often takes a few jarring seconds to connect the words to the character because the voices all appear to be coming from the same place. Having said that, it proved a useful tool to pick out the hilarious enunciation of Dromio’s (Dawn Petten) rap-like response to being asked to fetch a crowbar.
“… for a fish without a fin, there’s a fowl without a feather.
If a crow help us in, sirrah, we’ll pluck a crow together.”
This show most definitely deserved the standing ovation it did not get on opening night: something that will surely be rectified at future shows.
The Comedy of Errors runs until September 26th, 2015. Click HERE for show tickets and show times.