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Nary an Error To Be Found: The National Theatre’s Comedy of Error is Flawless

by Josina Reaves on March 24, 2012
Ephesus statue

Guest Post by Anne Carter Hutchinson

While it is called The Comedy of Errors, the National Theatre Company in London seems to have left out the “errors” part.

Director Dominic Cooke’s cast turned in stunning performances of Shakespeare’s comedy that were crisp and entertaining, and though there is certainly room to go over the top in this zany misadventure, this performance stopped short of caricature.

Now I should preface this review by stating that I am easily entertained in the theatre and have never had trouble suspending my disbelief. But I found the performance so tightly bound together by the cast that even the most sceptical of viewers would be hard pressed to say that he did not find humor in the production. The comic timing was spot on, the concept was believable, and the twins actually looked identical, to the point that even when they were on stage together, I could not tell the two Dromio characters, played by Daniel Poyser and Lucian Msamati, apart.

Set in a modern context, the set was rife with scaffolding and buildings that moved and converted to the various settings. The Phoenix, Antipholus’s (Lenny Henry) lodging, for instance, emerged from the back of the stage and wedged itself between two other buildings, presenting itself as a two story condominium complete with a neon sign and coordinated trim. Most of his wife Adriana’s (Claudie Blakely) opening scenes are delivered from the balcony with martini glass in hand, and it all plays perfectly to the miscommunication that ensues between the two characters who look like her husband.

My seat, thanks to the kind generosity of Jot and Quill editor, Josina Reaves, was just to the left of center stage in the front row, so at times, I felt as if I were part of the production. Being that close to the stage has a risk, often accentuating the slip-ups and missteps that naturally occur in a live production. Sometimes you can see backstage, for instance, and the illusion is broken. But so complete was the staging that even those moving around behind the scenes were in character, bolstering the concept of the busy city.

So, should you be lucky enough to live in proximity of London’s National Theatre, I highly recommend you catch this production before the end of its run on 1 April. I, for one, am glad that Josina allowed me to be a part of it. I WAS there!

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