Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Comedy, chaos and calamity are in full flow in a vivacious interpretation of this Shakespearean farce.
The Comedy of Errors is one of those Shakespeare plays that does just what it says on the tin – produces confusion by the truckload and almost unbounded potential for comedy and clowning. And this production from Exeter based Stage By Stage, this year celebrating twenty years at the Fringe, exploits every nuance in the script (as well as several of their own) in delivering a pulsating hour of high quality theatre.
Think Madness (and a plethora of other Ska and two tone bands) meets mayhem and you’ll have some idea of what these guys got up to. With the ten strong cast bursting onto the stage dancing, miming and moving, the eye was immediately drawn to the superb costumes, strong on black and white but using every conceivable pattern and the odd splash of colour to aid character identification.
An imaginative setting of the boating disaster that defines much of the subsequent capering was the prelude to a whirlwind of music, dialogue and exquisitely presented clowning and physical theatre. Using every inch of theSpaceUK Niddry Street stage, this production in the round also lost no opportunity to break through that famed fourth wall and engage the small but uniformly appreciative audience.
Acting was pretty much top drawer across the piece but particular credit goes to Will Pearce for his portrayal of Antipholus of Syracuse (great accent and physicality) and Caitlin Tyrell for delivering both Dromios with such dexterity. I particularly enjoyed the catty interplay between the sisters and “It” girls Adriana and Luciana (Josie Tapp and Leah James respectively) and special mention must be made of Benjamin-Jack Charles for his contrasting delivery of the urbane Egeus and, rather memorably, the flirtatious Courtesan.
And sound techies are generally an unrecognised force in most theatre shows but whoever put together this soundscape deserves a small medal, or a large beer. Amusing and appropriate as well, at times, nostalgic, it supported the cast during dialogue as well as providing backing for the singing and physical theatre. Whoever was responsible, please take a bow!
This production had just about everything; pace, energy, clarity, humour, dance, movement and a cast that were clearly having the time of their lives. It’s something I would highly recommend to any Shakespeare buff, indeed to anyone who appreciates good all-round theatre. Given its early slot time, it counts as a real hidden gem, something that it’s well worth getting out of bed for.