Rob Eager

CAST return to the ADC stage with a bang; even if zaniness and confusion take centre stage in every single performance of The Comedy of Errors, Jessica Murdoch’s distinctive approach brings a new spirit to the masterpiece. How? By inviting the whole audience to Antipholus’s birthday party!

This week, bafflement is at the centre of the ADC stage. Shakespeare’s most farcical, dense, and compact play pushes situations to their very limit, engendering arrests, suspicions of theft, and evil possession. The dramatic action unfolds mainly as a reaction to the loss of Egion’s wife and of his two look-alike sons, played excellently by Tom Nunan (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Gabriel Wheble (Antipholus of Ephesus), who disappeared after the ship they were embarked on was wrecked. The situations get even more bewildered as the two young men’s servants (James Rodgers and Anna Wright), both called Dromio, also turn out to be twins. The two sisters Adriana (Sophie Atherton) and Luciana (Ellie Cole) also interact with the pairs of twins opening up the way to some very droll near-seduction.

“Jessica Murdoch’s distinctive approach brings a new spirit to the masterpiece”

At the heart of the comedy in this play is Jessica Murdoch’s direction. In this version of The Comedy of Errors, the use of multi-roling is not a constraint but a genuine innovation. Identity crisis remains among the top themes of the masterpiece and Murdoch takes positive advantage of this. Jamie Sayers portrays both the masculine, pitiful father, Egeon, and the awkward maid wearing a striking dress, Luce, all being conducive to a hilarious effect.

Every part of this play is played to comedic excellence. Antipholus of Syracuse compares some parts of the body of his wife he had just found about with different countries, this being among the favourite moments of the performance which made the audience burst out laughing. Kim Alexander also stood up in the crowd, as, from an outrageously, devilishly dressed courtesan, she turns into a veiled abbess, probably as a criticism to the too much emphasised capability of religion in the Renaissance era.


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The Comedy of Errors is an artistically well-rounded stage play. Murdoch’s direction gave the audience spirited dancers and Adriana’s humorously adapted ‘If I were a boy’ to rapturous applause. The costumes carefully chosen by Georgia Humphrey fit without flaw in the jolly atmosphere, with minions’ suits (as, in the original Shakespearian play, the servants are addressed as “minions”) and extremely colourful clothes making the play come-at-able even for the youngest theatre enthusiasts. Lighting by Ruth Harvey added to the bright, cheerful feel of this production, managing to augment the space of ADC Theatre, as well as to move the focus onto the characters during the dance moments.

In spite of the multitude of characters confused with other ones during the performance, CAST 2019: The Comedy of Errors cannot be mistaken, as the contemporary dimension it brings to the Shakespearean play is not at all attenuating its value, but rather enriching it with a blast from the present-day.

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