Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
The Comedy of Errors
Also see Patrick's reviews of Anniversary!: Stories by Tobias Wolff and George Saunders, "Deep Kiss" and "Victory Lap" and Shall We Dance
The Comedy of Errors is as farcical a play as Shakespeare ever wrote, involving not one but two sets of twins separated as babes, and even parents separated by storm-tossed seas. Don't ask why the twins share the same namejust don't. It will only confuse you more than the unlucky twins named Antipholus are, once they accidentally land in the same coastal town of Ephesus. Antipholus of Syracuse (William J. Brown III) is traveling in Ephesus with his faithful servant Dromio (Jared Wright), when suddenly he is hailed by total strangers who seem to know him and know his name, too. That's odd enough, but it's even odder when an attractive woman named Adriana (Jessica Headington) calls him husband and begs him to come home for dinner.
Adriana also has no trouble recognizing Dromio, ordering him about as if she has known him for years. Her sister Luciana (Isabella Sakren) attracts the attention of Antipholus in a love-at-first-sight kind of thing, further complicating the notion that he is supposed to be married. As he and Dromio try to sort this out by going with Adriana for dinnerbecause, well, why notAntipholus of Ephesus (Ariel Zuckerman), Adriana's real husband, shows up, with his faithful servant Dromio (Sam Coughlin), only to find themselves locked out of their home and barred entry.
Antipholus of Ephesus piles on the complications by sulking in his favorite brothel and ordering inappropriate gifts, and the two Dromios keep running errands for the wrong boss and getting undeserved (but funny) beatings, and then there's suddenly an Abbess (Jill K. Wagoner)you get the idea. It's a lot of laughs, and don't worry too much about the plot, as it all gets sorted in the end.
Casting is uniformly excellent, with the two Antipholuses (Antipholi?) and two Dromios heading up the festivities. Brown's wide-eyed, seemingly naive Syracuse brings on the laughs with the character's self-absorption and willful misunderstanding. Zuckerman as Ephesus has fun with the overblown outrage and unapologetic dalliances about town. Both Antipholi expertly perform numerous beatings of various Dromios, nicely staged for comic effect by Marty Pistone. Wright and Coughlin, the hapless servants, run about, fall, cajole and kvetch with much skill in physical comedy, belying the existence of bones in their bodies.
Displaying equal comic talent are Headington and Sakren, the two women being unwitting engineers of many plot complications. The supporting cast is all fine, and well-matched to their roles.
Director Jared Sakren keeps the pace at a bracing clip, and takes welcome pains with the staging to be sure we can understand what's going on. Conor Woods' scenic design sets the cartoon-like tone for the show and allows relatively open staging. Costumes by Pamela Johnson help us to see the "twins" by their outfits and impart a slightly frontier feeling. Lighting by April George doesn't kick in until the second act after the sun goes down, but does the job well. Thanks to Sakren and sound designer Albert Casselhoff for miking the performers, making it far easier to hear them than nature would allow.
It's a fun show and a relaxing evening's entertainment with a silly Shakespearean farce. Take a picnic, your folding chairs, and settle in for two hours of merry mayhem.
The Comedy of Errors, through September 2, 2018, by 6th Street Playhouse, outdoors in the Cannery Ruins, 52 West 6th Street, Santa Rosa CA. Tickets $22.00-$35.00 can be purchased online at www.6thstreetplayhouse.com or by phone at 707-523-4185 ext. 1.