Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Edward Hall
Reviewer: Lu Greer
The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays, as well as one of the most farcical, is full of mad antics, slapstick comedy and ingenious wordplay. Being taken on by Propeller, an all-male company renowned for bringing their own brand of humour and accessibility to the works of the Bard, both gives this show the immediate potential for greatness and gives it some very high expectations to live up to.
The Comedy of Errors traditionally tells the story of two sets of identical twins separated when they were young, whom all end up in Ephesus at the same time and inadvertently cause havoc and mischief in the city. But as the cast, already in character and sombreros, wander through the audience long before the show begins it becomes clear that the audience aren’t going to be transported to the original ancient Greek setting. The cast, dressed in various shades of neon and football shirts, seem to be loitering somewhere between the 80s and 90s, although the mixed styles of them does leave some ambiguity about when exactly the audience are being taken. This confusion does to some extent extend to where they are being transported, as although the programme describes ‘a run down piazza’ the simple graffitied sets (Michael Pavelka) do to some degree look more Birmingham and Benidorm.
Being such a fast paced show The Comedy of Errors could have caused some problems for Propeller, particularly for members of the audience who perhaps have a hard time following Shakespearian dialogue, but thanks to some exceptional comic timing and exceptional performances from Will Featherstone and Matthew McPherson in particular, no viewer is left behind. The pair’s portrayals of Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse, one of the pairs of estranged twins, create by far some of the best, particularly when describing a certain kitchen wench.
The mark of this show’s greatness, though, comes from the discussions of the audience as they were leaving. While many were discussing the story or the acting, the most common section remembered with fondness was the Mariachi interlude in which the leather-wearing officer serenaded an audience member with his own version of Spandau Ballet’s True. What memories such as this mean is that Propeller, despite one or two issues, have not only created a fantastic version of the Bard’s work but have actually managed to create their own memorable moments. For the sheer skill of this alone, Propeller are not to be missed.
The Comedy of Errors runs until 29th March, 2014