Monday, November 9, 2015

The Comedy of Errors @ The Shiva Theater @ The Public Theater

Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? Have you ever gone looking for something? Have you ever been in love? These are the questions the audience is asked before the show begins. The Public Theatre’s production of The Comedy of Errors was a contemporary look at the Shakespearean classic filled with a lot of life, love, and as the title implies- comedy. 

Comedy of Errors follows two sets of identical twins who are separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus where they are mistaken by the townspeople (including Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife Adriana and her sister Luciana) for their identical counterparts, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus. This is the ultimate case of mistaken identities, wrongful accusations, and slapstick humor. 

Each Antipholus is played by Bernardo Cubría, with Lucas Caleb Rooney taking on each Dromio. Baseball caps for the boys from Syracuse and cowboy hats for the two Ephesus twins were used to help the audience distinguish between the characters. These two actors are exquisite, able to effortlessly transform between each twin within seconds, making them distinct and captivating. While the entire cast is marvelous and hysterical, these leading men really stand out and are commendable for their portrayals of the twins.

The Shiva theatre is a small intimate space, and the show uses this to its full advantage. The actors interact with the audience, sitting next to them, delivering soliloquies to them, and sometimes even bringing them onto the “stage” to be a part of the action. Seating is general and in the round, but no seat is a bad seat- you are right there with the performers. The only set provided is a square of grass and dirt, with a border-line painted between Syracuse and Ephesus. This allows the audience to really focus on the superb acting and the poetry of the language.

            When faced with a Shakespeare show most worry over the long hours they are about to endure, but there is no need to worry here: Running at 90 minutes with no intermission and constantly filled with infectious energy and fun the show breezes by- You can’t help but have a smile on your face for the entire hour and half.

This unique production is part of the Public’s Mobile Shakespeare Unit, which travels the five boroughs (and more) providing free entertainment to those in prisons, homeless shelters, and community centers. Director Kwame Kwel-Armah’s version is filled with contemporary references (border patrol officers, cell phones, etc.) that make it relevant to today and destroy the notion that Shakespeare is something “superior” that not everyone can understand. As is their mission, this production proves that Shakespeare is for everyone, and makes it enjoyable along the way. Now done touring, it is playing at the Public Theatre on Lafayette Street until November 22. If you’re looking for an evening filled with laughs and merriment make your way to The Comedy of Errors!

Review By: April Sigler
Photos By: Joan Marcus

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