The Comedy of Errors
14/02/2007 - 24/02/2007
by William Shakespeare
TOP DOG THEATRE
Top Dog Theatre returns to Mona Vale in February for the 2007 Summer Open Air Shakespeare Festival.
Continuing the tradition of bringing Shakespeare alive and accessible in the open air, Top Dog Theatre returns with one of Shakespeare’s finest evenings of entertainment and farce: The Comedy of Errors.
Most of us have at some time, encountered twins. Some of us have encountered identical twins. So what happens when Shakespeare introduces a pair of identical twins, who are so identical that not even the wife of one of the twins can tell who is her husband, and who the brother?
And just when that gets confusing for everyone on stage, Shakespeare gives each of the identical twins a slave, except these two slaves are also identical twins!
How much are we asked to believe? Well, not only are the twins unable to tell the slaves apart, but the slaves are unable to distinguish who is and who is not their master.
Sounds confusing? It is. Not only for the wife, but also for the jeweller, the merchants, the gaoler, the mad doctor, as well as for the four main characters who are suddenly thrown into a quagmire of comedy farce and total turmoil.
Toilets on site. Bring a picnic and LOTS of warm clothing.
The Mound Lawn, Mona Vale Gardens, Christchurch
Court Theatre Box Office : 963 0870
Ticket Price : $12
Theatre , Comedy ,
Energetic ensemble needs pace not speed
Review by Lindsay Clark 15th Feb 2007
Al fresco Shakespeare is full of promise and equally full of likely complications. There is the prospect of seeing a play freshly in the open air, and the delight of unimpeded leg room, picnics and a generally relaxed time of it. On the other hand there are bound to be encounters with the devils of sound technology, the necessity of bolder playing than many actors have experienced onstage and of course, the weather.
The weather, the picnics and the leg room at Mona Vale were all that could be desired and contributed hugely to a couple of hours well spent in the company of an energetic ensemble, whose extraordinary wigs made all things thereafter seem possible.
The main entertainment value of the play comes from inevitable complications following the unwitting presence in one town of identical male twins, parted from birth. Their servants are also identical twins and within the frame of restoring his freedom to their condemned father, there are subplots of dazzling ingenuity. Every character it seems mistakes identities and situations; every character is, along with the audience trying to hold on to a very slippery thread of logic.
Programme notes signal a ‘fast-paced, slick production,’ but the wide playing area, lack of focus in stage groupings and some uneven playing abilities add up to something less. Many of the scenes in the public square, for example have a distracting array of busy situations set around the main action and although good intentions can be read, tension and real pace, which has nothing to do with speed, are lost along with the hoped for lightness of tone.
On the positive side several experienced players turn in lively characters. The Antipholus pair (Charles Grubb and Dan Crossen ) have a fine time of it, as do Annette Thomson as a dynamic Adriana. They have the advantage of roles with a clear set of circumstances and enough lines to build recognisable presence. For the Dromios, played by two young girls (Nikki Bleyendaal and Paige Delaney) the going is harder in spite of their valiant antics.
The play is short and on a good evening the problems outlined above do not seem to matter very much. If fairytale colours bobbing around on a green sward and some relentless glee appeal, hie thee to Mona Vale. Life will seem very straightforward next day.
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