Review by Danny Gaisin
Shakespeare’s early ‘Comedy of Errors’ holds a special attraction for this scribe. As a teenager, I spent an inordinate amount of fun time with identical twins. They were so indistinguishable that I referred to them by their family name rather than their personal appellation. Their mirthful shenanigans included alternating driving lessons; utilizing a single license, and exchanging partners during a double-date. Theatre Erindale’s director David Matheson has opted to emphasize the comedy aspect of the play and the result is continual hilarity. Photo by Jim Smagata
The play’s highly improbable plot deals with twins and their servants inopportunely separated by a Mediterranean storm. Years later, the Syracuse duo arrive in Ephesus unaware that their doppelgangers are an established part of the community. Identical brothers with differing agendas and identical servants desperately trying to satisfy their master’s wishes obviously make for a comedy of errors! Under Matheson’s concept the result is slapstick complete with pratfalls, highly animated recitations and exaggerated double-takes worthy of the Keystone Kops. The overall impression is one of super energetic activity and a cast that is caught up with the deliciously entertaining characteristic of this particular interpretation. Whether it is a directorial instruction or a performer’s ad lib; the occasional “okay” or ‘yeah’ in no way seems anachronistic.
There is an extended scene in Act II wherein Adriana, wife of the local Antipholus (let’s call him Anti #1) tries to reiterate the tomfooleries that have been going on. Rachel VanDuzer brings such energy and burlesque to her role reading that it almost equals Nathan Lane’s ‘Max’ in the Broadway version of “The Producers”. She’s a natural comedienne. Both brothers, John Wamsley & Johnathan Muench (Anti #2) contribute full measure to their portrayals that somehow suggests that there are some personality quirks that are not mirror imaged. As the servants- Dromio (again no’s. 1 & 2), Gregory Guzik & Thinh Nguyan cross the line into hamminess but somehow it works to such an extent as to contribute to the overall notion of this particular version.
Two standout support portrayers (especially physically) are Zane O’Connor & especially Gabriel Golin in two of his four roles. The parts may not be pivotal but contribute significantly to the overall effect of ‘Comedy’.
As a devoté of TV’s “NCIS”; the character of Ziva David, an Israeli MOSSAD attaché played by Pablo DeCote was a scene-stealer (with better Hebrew than mine!). Giovanna Pandullo not only looks very like her, she also exhibits the head tilts and aside glances that made DePablo such a viewer draw. “Ani ohev otah” (I think I’m in love!)
The set is super simplistic; the projected backdrop is effective and also affords ease of egress and exit. The pace is frenetic and the soliloquys expounded with clarity and perfect projection. The entertainment value – more than full measure.
COMEDY OF ERRORS runs until the 28th, and PERICLES will have a 5-performance run from Feb. 25th – 28th. with Sat/Sun matinees @2pm
As usual, Erindale only stages highly polished thespian winners. Try to see both.