The Comedy of Errors
Though he's known best for his tragedies, the author of the Shakespearean canon had a sense of humor as broad as his intellect was deep, ranging from sublime satire to sophomoric slapstick. Within this panoply of jest, The Comedy of Errors is an early work often criticized for its simplicity; but it is, rather, a sophisticated farce that works as well today as it did 400 years ago.
For the Colorado Shakespeare Festival's current production of this classic gumbo of mistaken identity, shipwreck, and ribaldry, director Stephanie Shine places the story in old New Orleans, when pirates, French patois, and voodoo still held sway. The result is an delightful series of eclectic episodes, set off by unexpected parodies, side-splitting absurdities, and gender-bending romps.
|Jake Hart as Angelo, Geoffrey
Kent as Antipholus of Syracuse,
Kerne Fogfeyt as Antipholus
of Ephesus, Ryan Spickard as
Dromio of Syracuse, Nick
Praydras as Dromio of Ephesus
Yet the richness of the play's Renaissance roots are never lost, woven throughout Egeon's (Logan Ernstthal) pathos-laden madrigal of woe that sets up the story and the windows of fine poetry that are the hallmark of the playwright.
At the heart of the tale is two sets of identical twins, one pair gentlemen, the other their servants: Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse (Geoffrey Kent and Ryan Spickard) and Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus (Kerne Fogfeyt and Nick Praydras). For their part, the Anitpholuses exude naïve entitlement, while the Dromios are clever yet hapless.
Their love interests, Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus (Cheryl McFarren) and her sister Luciana (Rachel Schwartz), run the behavioral spectrum from coy to lusty, sending the mirrored twins in circles and occasionally into the arms of two drag queens, one a courtesan, the other a house maid. Joel Morello's Duke is a zany eccentric, much like the Lord of Misrule that holds sway in the Big Easy every Mardi Gras.
Of particular noteworthiness are the strong concessions director Shine makes to the acoustic and visual demands of the large outdoor amphitheatre, concentrating the action front and center, and blocking her actors to maximize the carry of their voices. The costume and scenic designers, Jeanne Arnold and Curt Enderle, outdo themselves, making this fully-realized production the highlight of this year's offerings.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival's production of The Comedy of Errors runs through August 14th in repertory with Antony and Cleopatra and Romeo and Juliet. 303-492-0554.