Comedy of Errors, RSC,
SHAKESPEARE’S most farcical play is full of japes, slapstick and mistaken identity in a world where being a stranger can get you killed.
Antipholus of Syracuse (Jonathan McGuinness) and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse (Bruce Mackinnon) were separated from their identical twin brothers at birth by a shipwreck.
Years later, the Syracusians arrive in the modern but dangerous port of Ephesus, policed by a brutal group of border guards who execute unwelcome guests.
But miraculously, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse are welcomed like old friends as they are mistaken for their twins, Antipholus of Ephesus (Stephen Hagan) and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus (Felix Hayes) who, unknown to their brothers, live in the city.
Confusion and hilarity ensues and accusations of theft, infidelity and madness fly as the arriving Antipholus finds he has somehow acquired a shrewish wife, Adriana (Kirsty Bushell) while Dromio too finds himself hounded by the rather terrifying cook wench.
The two Dromios were very amusing as the nice but dim clowns, who accordingly looked confusingly similar aside from their ‘I love Ephesus’ and ‘I love Syracuse’ T-shirts. Providing all the biggest laughs of the evening, as well as the most tender moment when the brothers are reunited at last.
One of Shakespeare’s earlier plays, Comedy of Errors’ farcical capers are often overlooked for more complex comedies but its darker themes of broken bonds, and the dangers of being an outsider, create a rounded, thought-provoking piece.
Comedy of Errors is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre until October 6.
HANNAH JENNINGS PARRY