Court Theatre presents
Comedy of Errors
At 5535 S. Ellis
Written by William Shakespeare
Adapted and directed by Sean Graney
Thru October 17th
Running Time: Eighty minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
‘My sister’s sister is me.’ Mistaken familial identity wreaks havoc in Syracuse by way of Hyde Park. The Court Theatre presents COMEDY OF ERRORS, a Shakespearean tale adapted and directed by Sean Graney. Two sets of identical twins have been separated and paired together. Each brother is with the other’s brother. Also, each twin shares the same name. There are two Antipholus-es and two Dromino-es. Confusing, right? Throw in two wives, two sisters, two gangsters, two cross-dressers, one nun and it goes double-vision for twice the laughs. With a boundless flair for drama and comedy, William Shakespeare wrote this farcical story of mistaken identities. Wearing two hats, Sean Graney adapts and directs COMEDY OF ERRORS for an updated twist on a nonsensical classic for double the pleasure.
Graney paces the absurdity with quick-change artists. The six member troupe is amazing at switching roles and costumes at high speed. An end scene is brilliantly silly with doors slamming and performers transforming. When Erik Hellman (Antipholus) looks back through the door and says ‘because they are wearing different costumes,’ there is a ludicrous moment believing he actually is talking to his twin. Ridiculous! Much to the pleasure of the audience (especially a highly animated left side of the theater), the cast exaggerates the joke vaudevillian style. The humor is slapstick with a sketch comedy vibe. Hellman and Alex Goodrich (Dromino) are a hilarious duo as a cross between Laurel & Hardy and game show hosts. They seemingly improvise some of their routine and are rewarded with hearty laughter. Goodrich gives off a genuine sense of amusement to Hellman’s straight guy. The entire cast work as a tight ensemble mugging to the crowd to give each joke a little more oomph.
Tom Burch designed a backdrop of storefronts that looks like an underworld version of who-ville. It functions perfectly for a ‘Laugh-In’ flashback where pop-out characters deliver one liners. Costume designer Jacqueline Firkins has also worked double-time to make individualistic choices for distinction in dualism that can be ripped off and slapped on while running. It’s a sophomoric fun run to the finish line where everyone wins just by showing up. Under Graney’s direction, COMEDY OF ERRORS packs a solid punch-line. The crowd reacts to the entertainment with a wide range of glee. The left side of the house sounds like a laugh track for a comedy sitcom. The guy in front of me is bent over in snorting convulsions. There are regular intervals of cackling throughout the audience. Me? I smiled really hard the whole time and giggled in amusement on occasion.
With a distinct chortle that is infectious, James says ‘bellylaughs Shakes aplenty.’