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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “A Comedy of Errors” turns convolution into hilarity

    Ed Flores/Arizona Repertory Thea
    A brutal scene plays out in Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” presented by the Arizona Repertory Theatre. The play is a tale of convulted comedy centered around two sets of estranged twins.

    Delivering slapstick comedy and over-the-top dramatization, William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” at the Arizona Repertory Theatre provides carefully rehearsed eccentrics in a delightful performance.

    The production features two sets of identical twins: one pair the sons of a merchant and the other pair servants to the first. In a series of unfortunate events, however, both sets of baby twins are separated in a shipwreck, along with their parents. “The Comedy of Errors” picks up over 20 years later in the trade city of Ephesus when the brothers have grown up with separate lives and separate servants, having no knowledge of the other’s whereabouts.

    One pair of twins, Antipholus of Syracuse, and his servant Dromio of Syracuse search for their long-lost twins and Antipholus’ mother Aemilia. The other twin, Antipholus of Ephesus, is a married merchant in Ephesus with no knowledge of his brother. 

    As if this confusion wasn’t enough, Antipholus of Syracuse and his Dromio arrive in Ephesus just in time to wreak havoc on his twin brother’s life. 

    The cast was well rehearsed and prepared for their cartoonish, larger-than-life roles. The casting department did great work, considering the compact pool of fine arts acting majors at the UA. 

    Both Antipholus characters (Ethan Kirschbaum and Kasey Caruso) and Dromios (Zackry Colston and Keenan Larson) appeared alarmingly similar in appearance. For a production such as this one, the similar looks of the two leads plays a big part in creating a convincing story for the audience. This attention to detail added to the compelling nature of the performances.

    The top-notch set design deserves credit, as the play created an entire city within scarce square footage. This set was creative and detailed. The quality of cast performance can be judged on its own merits, but a great set enhances any performance 10-fold.

    The costumes and numerous accents, however, did seem carelessly inconsistent. 

    Both Antipholuses and Dromios wore light sports suits, like traveling businessman in the 1950s. Most everyone else in the show, however-—most notably Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife Adrianna, and her sister Luciana with their long cloth dresses—were dressed for biblical times. 

    The chemistry was as authentic as could be expected from a play full of ridiculous situations and corny jokes. The interactions between the Dromios and their Antipholuses shined the brightest. The relationship between Antipholus of Syracuse and his Dromio played out as the most charming, despite some violence inflicted upon the poor slave. This relationship held more light humor than the other pair of estranged twins due to their better luck in the play’s sequence of events. 

    Proper technical execution of Shakespeare is daunting for any actor, regardless of experience and professional status. This cast took the challenge and embraced each role. The actors demonstrated great commitment to the moment throughout the play—an essential aspect for creating an atmosphere of comedy and tension without losing grip on reality. 

    Even for such a ridiculous farce as “The Comedy of Errors,” the element of reality keeps the audience invested in the eventual outcome of the story and engaged with the actors.

    Overall, this show came together well and put on a natural comedic and charming performance. It was evident that the cast put a great deal of work into giving the best portrayal of these characters who, perhaps with the exception of Antipholus of Syracuse, lacked depth or intrinsic motivation. This kind of obvious comedy sometimes proves difficult to produce naturally and organically. Because of the nature of farce, not every actor can pull it off. 

    Despite the difficulty of the source material, the Arizona Repertory Theatre’s rendition of “The Comedy of Errors” proves itself worthy. 

    Rating: A-

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