Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Comedy of Errors, Aug 24, 2013 ****

By William Shakespeare 
Bell Shakespeare
Fairfax Studio, Melbourne Arts Centre, Aug 21 to 31, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Aug 24
Stars:  **** 
This review was NOT written for Herald Sun. KH

Imara Savage’s production of The Comedy of Errors is a boisterous and uproarious interpretation of Shakespeare’s early comedy about mistaken identities.

Savage maintains Shakespeare’s text and language but updates the characters and context to a seamy, inner urban, 21st century nightclub scene (looks like Kings’ Cross) that is rife with dodgy dealings, hookers and corruption.

Two sets of identical twins were separated as babes; the two masters called Antipholus survive in different locations – Syracuse and Ephesus – each with one of the servant twins called Dromio.

When all four appear in the same town, the slapstick chaos of confusion reigns.

Of course, Shakespeare, even in this early play, could not write a comic romp without inserting a dramatic component that, in this case, is a poignant, introductory lament by Egeon (Eugene Gilfedder), the aged father of the Antipholuses.

The comedy arises from the twins being mistaken for each other by family, business associates and servants.

Both Antipholuses (Nathan O’Keefe, Septimus Caton) look like smarmy, young corporate executives in shiny suits, while their servant Dromios (Renato Musolino, Hazem Shammas) wearing scruffy flannel shirts, jeans and beanies, look like cunning street thugs.

The audience roars with laughter at the knockabout slapstick humour that has the Antipholuses and Dromios repeatedly being smacked and walking into doors.

Elena Carapetis is hilarious as Adriana, playing the shrill, carping wife as a jealous “wog girl” in leopard print and absurd high heels, while Jude Henshall is pert and tacky as her bimbo blonde sister.

There are some terrific cameos from Suzannah McDonald as the lisping nun, Anthony Taufa as a huge drag queen and a Mafioso Duke, and Demitrios Sirilas as Angelo, the sleazy jeweller.

Pip Runciman’s sleek, airport-meets-city streets design is versatile while David Heinrich’s sound and music are punchy and evocative.

The Comedy of Errors is a rollicking good comedy with inventive direction by Savage.

By Kate Herbert

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