The Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s earliest and shortest plays, and personally speaking I feel one of his funniest.
The story takes place over just 24 hours and centres around the stories of two sets of identical twins (one set from privileged beginnings and the other set not so). Accidentally separated at birth, they end up years later in the same place at the same time, with hilarious consequences.
Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus the home town of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and servant Driomio of Ephesus. What follows is a tale of mistaken identities leading to fights, near-seduction, infidelity, theft and arrest.
The Mercury is celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary this year and this home-grown production is a marvellous celebration of what this theatre is capable of. Director Ryan McBryde has taken the Bard’s story and set it in the Roaring Twenties.
The set is an art-deco inspired 1920s hotel foyer and as the audience take their seats they are entertained by the cast of actor-musicians playing and dancing to tunes from the 1920s. The music continues throughout the performance, however if you listen closely you’ll soon realise that while musical numbers are very much 1920s in style, they are in fact very cleverly reworked songs of today set to a 20s style. The music actually is a major highlight of this production taking more than a little inspiration from Scott Bradley’s Post Modern Jukebox.
The play sticks to the original Shakespeare text and the acting is first rate with the Dromio twins being played by real-life twins Danielle and Nichole Bird. Danielle and Nichole are both naturals in the slap-stick fun that litters the production. Daniel Burke plays Antipholus of Syracuse and Mike Slader Antipholus of Ephesus his married brother.
As as already been mentioned the complete cast are excellent so while not going into detail about each one, this should not be seen as any criticism as I could easily spend time on everyone of them.
Aaliyah Zhane makes her professional debut, her main role being that of the cabaret singer. Such an amazing voice, perfectly suited to the 20s style, and what a debut. I’d gladly go back again and again just to hear her sing!
The Comedy of Errors, what a birthday celebration, definitely something to sing and dance about – Happy Birthday Mercury.
• The Comedy of Errors is at Colchester’s Mercury Theatre until Saturday, 28th May. www.mercurytheatre.co.uk. Box Office: 01206 573948.
Review: Mark Keable, Ipswich24 Magazine
Pictures: Pamela Raith