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Richmond Shakespeare Festival The Comedy of Errors

By • Jun 18th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
The Comedy of Errors
Richmond Shakespeare Festival: (Info) (Web)
Agecroft Hall and Gardens, Richmond, VA
Through July 7th
1:50 with intermission
$28/$14 Child (16 and under)
Reviewed June 15th, 2013

As I have said before, I have never been a big Shakespeare fan (gasp). I must add to this, the revelation that I have also never been a fan of The Three Stooges or their brand of slapstick humor either. Despite this, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed The Richmond Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Comedy of Errors which flawlessly combines elements of both.

From the opening announcements to the closing curtain calls, Director Steve Perigard and his cast masterfully present one of Shakespeare’s earliest works and make it relevant and easy to understand (no easy trick, with the plot).

Two sets of identical twins were accidentally separated at birth — each with a twin from the opposite pair. Antipholus of Syracuse (Jonathan Conyers) with his servant Dromio of Syracuse (James Murphy) arrives in Ephesus not realizing his long-lost twin, Antipholus of Ephesus (Matt Lipscomb) lives there with his servant Dromio of Ephesus (John Mincks). When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of mishaps ensue based on a series of mistaken identities.

Perigard uses the slapstick humor and exaggerated body language to help the audience follow along. The action moves along at a brisk and energetic pace as Perigard makes excellent use of all the entrances and exits of the beautiful outdoor stage at Agecroft Hall (including many crosses in and behind the audience).

Conyers and Lipscomb did such a great job of parroting each other’s performances that it became even more difficult to distinguish between them. Molly Hood commanded the stage in each of her scenes as Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife, Adriana, with great comedic timing and a larger than life presence.

While the entire cast works effortlessly and effectively together, my companion for the evening, Morgan and I both agreed one performer stood out. John Mincks displays mastery of the slapstick humor, the deadpan facial expressions and the controlled physicality of his role that add even more laughs in each of his scenes.

Liz Hopper’s costumes are not only period perfect; the consistent hues of gold and maroon add a touch of middle age regality as well as adding to the character confusion.

To be consistent with my personal goal of always having at least one positive and one criticism for every show; I could only come up with one negative. Be prepared as night falls for the bugs, and frogs, and bats (I hate bats!) and the possibility of rain (bring the umbrella and the bug repellent).

Beyond that, make no mistake, this Comedy of Errors is truly one of the biggest hits of the year, and you will “coitainly” leave smiling.

Director’s Note

I to the world am like a drop of water that in the ocean seeks another drop, who, falling there to find his fellow forth, (Unseen, inquisitive) confounds himself. So I, to find a mother and a brother, In quest of them, unhappy, lose myself. – Antipholous of Syracuse

After seven unsuccessful years of searching for his family, Antipholus of Syracuse finds himself in a strange land under the threat of death. Feeling lost, he begins to question the choices that brought him to Ephesus. Has his obsession with finding his family completely consumed him? And, as the strangers in Ephesus seem to know him better than he knows himself, has he begun to lose his mind? Has the journey been worth his loss of identity?

The plot for The Comedy of Errors is taken directly from the Roman comedy Menaechmi by Plautus. It is one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays and also his shortest. For these reasons, it is often dismissed as a slight work: merely a farce of mistaken identity. But while the mistaken identities provide a great deal of the comedy, Shakespeare brilliantly alters Plautus’s work giving the play a structure and depth, not found in the original.

Shakespeare’s many improvements include: adding a second set of twins, framing the action in an urgent timeline creating Egeon and Emilia’s backstory, and providing the possibility of new romance by inventing the character of Luciana. But perhaps his most important improvement is giving many of the play’s major characters time to wrestle with their own issues of identity. And, by including the modern notion that identity is closely linked to the very human need to connect with others, he answers Antipholus of Syracuse’s question. The key to self-knowledge can be found in allowing ourselves, at least for a time, to be like Antipholus’s drop of water and to get lost in the madness around us. The journey is always worth it, because we know so much more about ourselves on the other end of the madness. A madness brilliantly represented here in Shakespeare’s broad comedy.

-Steve Perigard

Photo Gallery

Matt Lipscomb as Antipholus of Ephesus and Molly Hood as Adriana Molly Hood as Adriana and James Murphy as Dromio of Syracuse
Matt Lipscomb as Antipholus of Ephesus and Molly Hood as Adriana
Molly Hood as Adriana and James Murphy as Dromio of Syracuse
Alex Wiles as Luciana and Molly Hood as Adriana Jonathan Conyers as Antipholus of Syracuse and Alex Wiles as Luciana
Alex Wiles as Luciana and Molly Hood as Adriana
Jonathan Conyers as Antipholus of Syracuse and Alex Wiles as Luciana

Photos provided by Richmond Shakespeare Festival

Cast (in alphabetic order)

  • Jailer/Balthazar/Ensemble: Beau Bryan
  • Antipholus of Syracuse: Jonathan Conyers
  • Duke/Luce: Thomas Cunningham
  • Merchant: Adrian Grantz
  • Adriana: Molly Hood
  • Angelo/Dr. Pinch: David Janoski
  • Courtesan/Ensemble: Irene Kuykendall
  • Antipholus of Ephesus: Matt Lipscomb
  • Dromio of Ephesus: John Mincks
  • Dromio of Syracuse: James Murphy
  • Egeon: Barry Pruitt
  • Servant/Ensemble: Katie Robey
  • Officer/Ensemble: Connor Scully
  • Abbess/Ensemble: Jody Strickler
  • Luciana: Alexandra Wiles

Production Team

  • Director: Steve Perigard
  • Assistant Director: Melissa Rayford
  • Producer : Cheryl Fare
  • Composer/ musician: Michael Knowles
  • Dramaturg: Twyla Kitts
  • Text Coach: Jan Powell
  • Stage Manager: Kathryn Cohen
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Hannah Adaway
  • Lighting Design: BJ Wilkinson
  • Lighting Assistant: Brittney Page
  • Costumer: Liz Hopper
  • Costume Assistant: Anna Bialkowski
  • Wardrobe Assistant: Cherish Maldonado
  • Properties Design: James Murphy
  • Properties Manager: Paige Skidmore
  • Fight Director: Kevin Inouye

Disclaimer: Richmond Shakespeare Festival provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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