The Comedy of Errors 2000
Daily Echo, THURSDAY JULY 20, 2000 REVIEW
Fast-paced production is not to be missed
The Comedy of Errors,
Bournemouth Shakespeare Players, Priory House Garden, Christchurch
WITH the leading lady fracturing her elbow and another cast member cracking a couple of ribs, there must have been times in the last week or so when the Players wondered if any more “errors” would prevent them putting on a show at all.
Luckily there have been no more, although seeing the speed at which some of the action moves perhaps everyone should keep their fingers firmly crossed for a while yet. As the confusion unfolds over two sets of identical twins turning up in the same place, each unaware of the other’s presence, some of the ensuing chases rival anything the Keystone Cops might have achieved.
This is a lively production in all senses of the word, and extremely enjoyable thanks to Kevin Dicker’s fine direction and quirky sense of humour, as well as a cast that has risen splendidly to the challenge. Assured performances come in particular from Natalie Arkell (Adriana ) and both sets of “twins”: Tim Beacock and Guy Trevelyan-Martin (Antipholus) and Stephen Nairn and David Carter (Dromio). Sian Thomas also impresses as Luciana, as does Daniel Sutton, playing a number of small roles in scene-stealing style.
A “comedy of errors” you’d be mistaken to miss.
The Comedy of Errors 2012
Scene ONE, JULY 2012, REVIEW
The Comedy Of Errors
Tue, 07/17/2012 – 19:30 Bournemouth Shakespeare Players
|·||Christchurch Priory Garden|
AS Shakespeare grew older, his plays turned darker, and increasingly addressed political ideas or themes of a cosmic nature – the nature of man, of kings, the supernatural, and the divine.
The Comedy of Errors, however, is considered to be one of his earliest plays – if not the very first – and youthful exuberance runs right through it, delighting in physical humour, slapstick, and innuendo. In fact, this play is the nearest the Bard came to writing what we wold recognise today as a farce, with mistaken identities, misconstrued intentions, and much mayhem ensuing.
I shan’t bother you with the plot (that is what Wikipedia, or even going to watch, is for), but suffice to say that it involves twins, a separation at birth, and some jewellery. Oh, and some more twins.
In order to pull off this play, the production needs to have bags of pace, energy, and its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. I am happy to say that BSP, under the direction of Kevin Dicker, delivers, and gives us a real knockabout, fun night.
I am generally more of a smiler than a laugh-out-louder in the theatre, but I have to say I inadvertently brayed like a donkey several times watching this, and for all the right reasons.
In large part this was down to the Dromio twins, Jenny Hughes and June Garland, who were inspired: both in terms of casting two women playing men, and in their performances, which brought to mind both Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp and – and I mean this as sincere praise – the Chuckle Brothers. Praise must go not just to the physical performances, but to their evident skill in delivery, making Shakespearian Clown-speeches (which, let’s face it, are often pretty hard to “get” for a modern audience), perfectly clear.
Dawn Hollington, as Luciana, was another study in how to get a belly laugh – her reactions to the unfolding events were some of the funniest moments of the night. Check out her reading habits as the play progresses, too. Of course, every comedian needs a straight man, and Beverley Beck’s Adriana was pitch-perfect and she made the character thoroughly believable: a superb performance.
As was Paul Nelson who, with the unenviable task of playing not one, but both of the Antipholuses (Antipholi?), did an incredible job of characterising them both as recognisably different, but clearly similar at the same time. This was a very physical, energetic performance, and the increasing levels of bewilderment (Syracuse), outrage (Ephesus), and despair (both) written on his expressive face brought out all the humour beautifully.
With largely strong performances from the supporting cast, a special mention goes to Mark Mackinlay who is excellent as Angelo – and who I discovered only joined the cast two weeks before opening night: hats off. Directorially, Kevin Dicker sprinkles several lovely touches throughout, most notably in a Benny Hill moment (I shan’t spoil it for you), and in tackling the thorny issue of the ending.
I have a few niggles: first, in a couple of cases, projection was lacking, even on a relatively windless evening, and there were one or two grapples for lines – although these should be ironed out as the cast grows in confidence; secondly, although I could see the intention, I thought the bit with the nuns didn’t quite work, although this may have been down to a slight timing issue with the sound effects; and thirdly, for slapstick to really work, there needs to be an actual slap, especially when – as here – it’s a fairly big part of the comedy throughout. As most performers will attest, a little (controlled) slapping never hurt anyone, but it can make such a difference to the audience. There are very effective ways to stage the pulling of a proper punch that involve sight lines and calculated missing, but a simple slap or a cuff on the back of the head that visibly stops six inches away just looks wrong.
Mind you, on every other level this production does connect. It’s a silly, boisterous, energetic romp – and due to the Stomp on the Quomp being postponed until September, there is an unexpectedly extra performance on Saturday 21st July.
The rain seems set to stay off, so if you’re looking for a bit of sunshine in your life, you could do worse than catch this show.