The Aquila Theatre Company has come to town with its new production of A Comedy of Errors. Breaking with traditional all American or all English repertory theatrical companies, The Aquila Theatre has taken on the challenge of mixing American and British actors. And what an excellent job they do with this confusing, funny and touching farce about two sets of identical twins whose lives get turned upside down before they are finally put in order.
Imagine a situation where two sets of identical twins are separated at birth during a storm at sea. The father finds his way to Syracuse with one set of twins, while the mother finds her way with the others to Ephesus. Now, twenty-three years later, the father, Egeon, his son Antipholus and his servant Dromio leave Syracuse in search of wife/mother, son/brother and servant/brother in Ephesus. Unfortunately, Syracuse and Ephesus are enemies, so quickly trouble begins. Upon landing Egeon is arrested by the Duke of Ephesus, and will be beheaded if he can’t come up with 100 marks. Fortunately, Antipholus and Dromio from Syracuse don’t have this problem. They are a perfect match in appearance, names and clothing to their Ephesian twins, Antipholus and Dromio. They slip into the country unnoticed to wreck innocent havoc wherever they go. And so the fun begins.
As expected, confusion and mistaken identities claim this day in Ephesus. And, silly as this broad humor is, David Caron, a splendid Antipholus from Syracuse, finds a poignant moment, in his first monologue, to set forth the theme of this play, the search for lost family. We know, right from the beginning, that this production will rely not only on slapstick comedy, but also on wonderful performances and imaginative staging. Of course, the farce proceeds with mistaken identities, unwarranted thrashings and unfair accusations. But there are, throughout, beautiful declarations of love and love lost, as well as wonderful comic descriptions which forecast Shakespeare’s brilliance.
David Caron heads the cast as both Antipholus of Syracuse and his identical twin from Ephesus. His ease in both parts makes the switches from brother to brother lots of fun to watch. Lisa Carter, playing Adriana, the neglected wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, is poignant and sexy in her desperate attempts to win back her husband’s love. And never did a character get kicked and hit as much as the confused servant Dromio, played by John Butelli, who always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Mira Kingsley portrays Luciana , the uptight sister of Adriana, who falls in love with the twin she thinks is her sister’s husband, but thankfully isn’t. A wonderful declaration of love comes her way, and the beauty of this scene makes the audience remember the magic of Shakespeare’s language and images.
Naturally, confusion becomes clarity and all unpleasantness is straightened out by the play’s end. The Duke is given his money for Egeon’s freedom. Emilia, an abbess and mother of the twins, appears out of nowhere to reunite with the father. Luciana has her Antipholus of Syracuse and poor Adriana has her Antipholus of Ephesus. The twin Dromios get to enjoy each others company, and the audience leaves quite sure that all is right in the land of Ephesus.
One note about the theater. It is a large room with four rows of center seating. These seats are $35. The audience is seated on a first come first serve basis. There are several large cushioned chairs along the left and right side of the stage, called Casbah seating. These cost $20, however, late arrivals in these seats may end up sitting on cushions without back-support on the floor. Buyer beware.
Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors