Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

The Comedy of Errors
Shakespeare Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule (updated)

Also see Susan's review of Heisenberg


The Cast
Photo by Scott Suchman
The production of William Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors now at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Lansburgh Theatre in Washington, DC, is breezy fun that could, on the basis of Alan Paul's direction, be renamed A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Ephesus. Paul directed the company's staging of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum a few seasons back and that musical, like the current play, borrows from the works of the Roman playwright Plautus.

The similarities between the two productions are numerous, including the appearance of the set (James Noone's scenic design has hidden depths that reveal themselves when the turntable begins moving) and the interpolation of original songs (by Michael Dansicker, not Stephen Sondheim) as a breather between the scenes of nonsense. Paul directly steals from Forum by including in the cast three "Proteans" (Matt Bauman, John Cardenas, Justin G. Nelson) who appear in a succession of disguises and silly fake mustaches.

Paul is a master of pacing who understands that the farcical complications have to fly past, while the more serious moments—there are some—need more deliberate handling. His talented actors are skilled in both Shakespearean language and zaniness.

The premise is that two sets of twins, the sons of Egeon of Syracuse (Ted van Griethuysen) and two adopted boys designated as the sons' servants, were separated in a shipwreck decades earlier, shortly after their birth. Antipholus of Syracuse (Gregory Wooddell) and his servant Dromio of Syracuse (Carson Elrod), now adults, have left their home in search of their missing brothers and arrived in Ephesus, which, as it happens, is at war with Syracuse.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Egeon or the other two, their doppelgangers—also named Antipholus (Christian Conn) and Dromio (Carter Gill)—live in Ephesus. Unlike the visitors from Syracuse, they are both married, Antipholus of Ephesus to Adriana (Veanne Cox) and Dromio of Ephesus to Luce (J. Bernard Calloway in majestic drag). As the twins are not only dead ringers for each other but wearing identical clothes, the confusion begins building, including an attraction between Antipholus of Syracuse and his supposed sister-in-law Luciana (Folami Williams).

Wooddell and Conn are ardent, even impassioned, as matters become more and more confused, and Elrod and Gill are skilled physical comedians, but they aren't the focus here. Cox earns laughs and pathos as a woman with a hard shell over a wounded heart, while the other standouts are more outrageous: Tom Story as a louche goldsmith, all fluffy blond hair and shirt open to the navel; Eleasha Gamble as a courtesan who at one point wears a sexy porcupine costume (designed by Gabriel Berry); Sarah Marshall as Dr. Pinch, psychiatrist and free-lance exorcist; and Bauman as a dancing police officer.

Shakespeare Theatre Company
The Comedy of Errors
September 25th - November 4th, 2018
By William Shakespeare
Antipholus of Syracuse: Gregory Wooddell
Antipholus of Ephesus: Christian Conn
Dromio of Syracuse: Carson Elrod
Dromio of Ephesus: Carter Gill
Egeon, Merchant of Syracuse: Ted van Griethuysen
Emilia, Abbess at Ephesus: Nancy Robinette
Adriana, Wife of Antipholus of Ephesus: Veanne Cox
Luciana, Adriana's younger sister: Folami Williams
Angelo, a Goldsmith: Tom Story
Duke Solinus of Ephesus/Luce: J. Bernard Calloway
Courtesan: Eleasha Gamble
Dr. Pinch: Sarah Marshall
Tailor/Second Merchant: Matt Zambrano
Officer: Matt Bauman
Proteans: Matt Bauman, John Cardenas, Justin G. Nelson
Directed by Alan Paul
Harman Center for the Arts, Lansburgh Theatre
450 7th St. N.W.
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-547-1122 or 877-487-8849 or www.shakespearetheatre.org


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