Whitireia Performance Centre, 25-27 Vivian Street, Wellington

24/06/2014 - 28/06/2014

Production Details

“We came into the world like brother and brother,
And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.”

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. This leads to a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities, wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, false accusations of infidelity, and madness.

This production of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS is set in the 40s and 50s. This farcical, slapstick show performed by the second year actors from Whitireia Stage and Screen Arts is sure to bring one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays into a new and engaging light.

Following on from the hugely successful 2013 production of Runner/Macbeth,

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS continues the wide and proven appeal that our productions have. It works as a potent introduction to Shakespeare.

The Performance Centre’s Theatre will be transformed into the world of a 1940s underground Jazz club.

Venue:  WHITIREIA THEATRE, 25-27 Vivian St, Te Aro, Wellington.
Duration:  90 Minutes.

Wednesday 25 June 11am matinee, 7.30pm.
Thursday 26 June 11am matinee (sold out), 7.30pm
Friday 11am 27 June matinee (sold out), 7.30pm
Saturday 28 June 6pm
Bookings online at   

Production Manager - Shaun Martin

Solinus - Jonny T. Marshall
Egeon - Tommy Berridge
Antipholus of Ephesus - Allen Murrell
Antipholus of Syracuse - Tane Williams-Accra
Dromio of Ephesus - Matthew Savage
Dromio of Syracuse - Rachel Harrison
Balthazar - Matthew Sole
Angelo - Victoria Gillespie
First Merchant - Adrian Renor
Second Merchant - Joel Hardwick
Dr Pinch – Makuei Aken
Adriana - Sasha Delamere
Luciana - Lucy Barclay 
Luce - Kadin Collins
Courtesan - Melissa Cooper
Emilia - Yasmin de Visser
Barman - Mark Atkin
Prostitute/Jailer - Justine Bouchard

Publicity - Emma-Yvonne Simons, Becca Hughes, Connor Tomlinson, Alanah Robertson.
Front of House - Ivan Siemonek, Sarah Elizabeth.
Stage Management - Cary Stackhouse, Madison Rakena, Kasiano Mita.
Set design - Dan Burns, Frankie Mulligan, Kayla Britton.
Props - Ashleigh Waters, Blaze O'Sullivan, Haydn Carter.
Costume - Courtney Warwick, Lachy Mackintosh, Finn McCauley, Anoushka Mackey.
Sound design - Chadwynn Tohu.
Lighting design - Leo Maggs.

1hr 30mins, incl. interval

Zeal pushes comedy towards farce

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 26th Jun 2014

On entering the foyer of the Whitireia Performance Centre you are confronted with a number of actors and audience dancing to music played and sung by the excellent Sunny Daze and The Sunbeams (a spot-on name for a 1950s band).

In the theatre the play begins with the citizens of Ephesus dancing a dance that is somewhere between jitterbug and rock’n’roll. It is a bustling city where, as the programme states, “the younger generation were finding their voice.”

However, in the bustle of Shakespeare’s Ephesus there is a harsh government as well as mountebanks and thieves. Into this dangerous city come Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio who immediately get confused with their identical twins, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, also called Dromio; all separated at birth.

A farcical plot if ever there was one which Shakespeare embellished from a work by the Roman playwright Plautus. But Shakespeare is never that simple. First, it is called a comedy not a farce and underlying all the mistaken identities and confusions there are real emotional depths concerning families, loss, madness, marriage, and reunion.

In the programme Richard Finn quotes the play’s touching final couplet: “We came into the world like brother and brother/And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before the other.”

The Whitireia second-year students of Stage and Screen Arts tackle the play performing with a mixture of farce and comedy, with farce coming out ahead.

There’s a harum-scarum chase, a trio of a tango, a portable front door, lots of rushing about, and only clothing, and painted moustaches for the Dromios, to make the two sets of twins identical.

The striking appearance of the mountebank Dr Pinch as a witch-doctor bears out superbly Antipholus of Ephesus’s description of him as “A needy, hollow-eyed, sharp looking wretch, ” as does the rotundity of the kitchen maid, Luce, who “If she lives to doomsday, she’ll burn a week longer than the whole world.”

In short, the production and the performances are a bit too eager to keep things moving at the expense of the play’s themes but it is nonetheless an enjoyable evening.


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Ranges from competent to excellent

Review by John Smythe 25th Jun 2014

In the mirror-ball flecked traverse space, the feel of a 1950s dance hall is well established as we take our seats on either side of the semi-formally frocked cast, foxtrotting to the pleasant tones of Sunny Daze and the Sunbeams. The music and dancing set it at the cusp of ballroom and rock ’n’ roll when, in the growing affluence of the post-war 50s, repressive social norms are soon to be challenged. 

With The Comedy of Errors, his first comedy (unless you accept Titus Andronicus was written as a splatter-fest farce), William Shakespeare – in his early twenties – displays a clear understanding of the importance of jeopardy in comedy. Ephesus is a no-go area for Syracusians, due to some inter-Ducal enmity, so when the ageing merchant of Syracuse, Egeon (Tommy Berridge) turns up in search of his long-lost twin sons and the other twins he bought from a poor woman to serve them, the Duke of Ephesus (Johnny T Marshall), in a fit of compassion, gives him just one day to raise 1000 marks to pay a fine in lieu to being put to death for daring to enter Ephesus.   

As Egeon tells his expository backstory, director Richard Finn (also the designer) ensures we get the set-up by using dumb-show to establish the two sets of twins – high and low-born – as babes in arms, their subsequent master-servant pairings and their separations at sea. This also establishes his wife, Emilia (Yasmin de Visser), so that her appearance later as a Lady Abbess of Ephesus and the reunion of husband and wife, boys and brothers, has a pleasing ‘book-end’ effect.

Betwixt and between, in this shortest of Shakespeare’s plays (just 90 minutes including interval), we are treated to comical scenes of mistaken identity brought about by the arrival of Antipholus of Syracuse (Tane Williams-Accra) and Dromio of Syracuse (Rachel Harrison) in the town which is home to Antipholus of Ephesus (Allen Murrell), who is married to wealthy Adriana (Sasha Delamere); where Dromio of Ephesus (Matthew Savage), finds refuge from the beatings his master and mistress habitually mete out, with the kitchen wench Luce (Kadin Collins).

The Antipholi are in suits, the Dromios are dressed as butlers and Adriana, her sister Luciana (Lucy Barclay) and other women friends – ensconced in a floral-covered lounge suite at one end of the space – are befrocked as if from a 50s fashion catalogue. Except Luce seems to be modelled on Hattie McDaniel’s ‘Mammy’ from Gone With The Wind. The Courtesan (Melissa Cooper) is in sophisticated black, and a random Prostitute (Justine Suluka Bouchard) is decidedly French. Oh well, Shakespeare had purloined stock comic characters from Plautus so I suppose it is valid to update the clichés accordingly.  

While Ant of Eph puts his marriage at risk by consorting with the Courtesan, having been locked out of his own house while Ant of Syr is enjoying the hospitality within, the downward pressure is further maintained by mix-ups involving a gold necklace and a subsequent chain of debts and sailing deadlines which puts the goldsmith Angelo (Victoria Gillespie) and a couple of Merchants (Adrian Renor and Joel Isaac Hardwick) at serious odds with each other. The law enforcers (led by a Glock-wielding Matthew Sole) seem to be clad in faux leather devoid of either PD branding or gang insignia.

Makuei Awet Aken (from Sudan) makes an impressive top-hatted, tail-coated, bare-chested and white-faced Doctor Pinch, engaged by Adriana to exorcise the demons from Ant of Eph which have clearly made him mad. And to complete the picture of Ephesus, a bar inhabits one corner, tended by Mark N Atkin.  

It all plays out at a good pace with a few bits of excellent comic business lifting it beyond competent. Tane William-Accra is especially impressive as Antipholus of Syracuse, constantly inventing comic business out of an intelligent understanding of the play without ever over-doing it. He and Lucy Barclay’s Luciana manifest their growing mutual attraction to compelling effect, and his relationship with Rachel Harrison’s comically-crafted Dromio is also well forged.

Having created a quite convoluted plot around who owes what to whom, and where the money gets diverted, Shakespeare is remiss in not clearly scripting the fiscal resolution. I’m happy to see that the fat roll of banknotes does finally get into the right hands nevertheless.

The resolving of all the lost and at-risk relationships is the important thing and while some rather strident declaiming of text impedes the reunion of Emilia and Egeon, my eye is most drawn to the now possible bond between Luciana and Ant of Syr. While the Antipholi are happily reunited, the Dromios are somewhat wary before uniting to deliver the final sight gag.

The promise of “farcical slapstick” is not consistently delivered and the jeopardy and the pressures on emotional relationships could be explored more profoundly. Overall, as a showcase for potentially professional talent emerging from a two-year course, this Comedy of Errors ranges from competent to excellent.


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