The set up is pure farce: two identical brothers both named Antipholus, having been separated by shipwreck as children, unknowingly end up in the same town. Their servants too, both named Dromio, are estranged twins. Mayhem and mishaps follow: Adriana (Laura Hanna), wife of Antipholus of Ephesus (Matthew Broome), locks her husband out of their home and unwittingly dines with his brother, Antipholus of Syracuse (Michael Elcock), who of course falls in love with her sister Luciana (Jessica Whitehurst). Confusion begets confusion, error follows error, while both Dromios (George Fouracres and Jordan Metcalfe) add to the chaos with gags involving bags of coins, chains, ropes and rings.
Michael Elcock and Phoebe Naughton in The Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare's Globe. Photo: Marc Brenner
There aren’t many extra bells and whistles in Holmes’s furiously well-crafted comedy, and it doesn’t need them. Designer Paul Wills adds a nautical motif: a mast looms above the yard while a dock juts out from the stage, with characters entering by boat and parting the audience. But the success is in Holmes’s stunning calibration of pace: the stakes get higher and higher while never feeling repetitive or redundant. It’s seemingly simple but meticulously clever; a well-timed and exaggerated town brawl early on breaks up the exposition and hints to the audience that the violence, insults and misogyny in the play exist in a ridiculous space and are not to be taken seriously.
At the same time, Holmes offers up more emotional moments, as when Claire Benedict’s Abess and Paul Rider’s Egeon, overwhelmed with tears, are reunited with both their sons and each other after thirty-three years. Benedict and Rider stay grounded and even-keeled, providing a rich counterpoint to the rest of the ensemble, all of whom are just thoroughly good. Hats off to Metcalfe and Fouracres as the Dromios who get the biggest laughs of the night, and to Philip Cumbus as the Duke, whose comic timing is unmatched.
When theatres reopened after the height of the pandemic, there was a desire for shows filled with laughter, joy, and most especially communion. With a stellar cast who genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves, The Comedy of Errors does just that: it sparkles and lifts off into the night as it revels in its levity.
|What||The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare's Globe review|
|Where||The Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London, SE1 9DT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Blackfriars (underground)|
12 May 23 – 29 Jul 23, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|