Considering that William Shakespeare was a prolific playwright more than 400 years ago, it’s remarkable how familiar the storylines and tropes used in his plays remain to a modern audience.
William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors – produced by Citizens Theatre and directed by Dominic Hill – was originally scheduled for 2021 but cancelled for Covid. It is an entertaining and enjoyable production about a family shipwrecked, separated, and reunited years later…
The estranged family in question find themselves in the Greek city of Ephesus, (think Ibiza but with more court-appointed death sentences), however, one set of twins doesn’t know the other is on the island. Cue lots of mistaken identity mishaps, and some genuinely funny slapstick comedy.
When wealthy playboy Antipholus of Syracuse (played by Angus Miller) and his servant Dromio (played by Michael Guest) arrive in the city, they are somehow greeted as if local celebrities, occasionally enjoying the notoriety, though they are not the real celebrities. Antipholus and Dromio have identical shipwrecked twins, also named Antipholus and Dromio who reside permanently in Ephesus.
The comfortable complexity of the script and language spoken during the play was a reassuring, yet familiarly difficult juxtaposition. On one hand the audience, unless versed in Shakespearean language and dialect from 400 years ago, are faced with a complexity of prose, yet it’s an absolute pleasure to simply sit and bathe yourself in the unquestionable excellence of each Shakespearean verse. The trope of mistaken identity and absurd slapstick is also still one of the most recognisable storylines used today.
The stage setup was incredibly unique, a (almost) deconstruction of what’s typically expected during a play. It’s an outdoor industrial stage covered by a huge tent that creates a festival-like energy among the crowd, but still offers an intimacy that is sometimes lost when actors are in the zone on stage in front of a huge audience.
The Comedy of Errors is exciting, entertaining and offers a surprising depth of emotion evoked when the mother (Renee Williams), the father (John Macauley), and all identical twins are reunited.
As an ironically interesting interlude, William Shakespeare wrote The Comedy of Errors following two years of plague-enforced lockdown. It’s very fitting that The Citz returned to the stage with this production after our bout of pandemic-enforced house arrest.
A welcome return by The Citz and the theatrical experience, great to have you back.