This isn’t a sponsored post. BrumHour was invited to see The Comedy of Errors by The RSC.
By Dave Massey twitter.com/BrumHour
Please note: this production contains physical abuse of employees and fat shaming of unseen characters.
Review: The Comedy of Errors at The RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon
Directed by Phillip Breen
The Comedy of Errors is outside at The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre at The RSC until 26th September 2021.
Two pairs of almost identical twins, one pair of servants to the other, are split up at such a young age they have no knowledge of each other and as this play begins one twin with his servant has arrived in Ephesus, the town of the other twin who unknowingly lives there with his own servant. For some reasons best known to William Shakespeare the servant twins are BOTH called Dromio and their masters are called Antipholus. Yes?
Despite this highly implausible premise, the action is mainly set over 24 hours as Antipholus of Syracuse (Guy Lewis) and his manservant Dromio of Syracuse (Jonathan Broadbent) arrive in Ephesus and find themselves mistaken for Antipholus of Ephesus (Rowan Polonski) and his manservant Dromio of Syracuse (Greg Haiste) mainly by Adriana aka the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus (Hedydd Dylan) and the business people of Ephesus.
The action zips along at a fair pace with several quite serious moments throughout, particularly at the start and it was a good few minutes before I found any comedy but then there were lots of amusing visual gags, filthy jokes which might float over some people’s innocent minds and a fantastic use of sound.
This is set in the mid-late 1980s. Clashing bright patterns, big hair, loud shoes and bright socks to an 80s Walkman, “Love is” teddy bears holding hearts and lots of blusher. The costumes, makeup and hairstyles SCREAM 1980s. In contrast, the diamond patterned floor is covered in opal, aqua and light grey material evoking a “modern” church with steps leading up to the rear of the stage. The idea of theatre as a version of a church is visually referenced through the sets and even the golden banqueting chairs fuelling the notion of weddings as being theatrical too.
Ironically all this talk of being back “in” a theatre is slightly redundant with The RSC’s Comedy of Errors as it actually is housed in The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, a cool outdoor theatre with a full capacity of 500 seats. It is purpose built with bright red seats, and filled with friendly but informed looking staff who help you find an unreserved seat.
The circular themes of the story are also reflected in the circular seating and the plays own cover art showing the two pairs of twins chasing each other. Most of the music is made up from an on stage a cappella four piece group. They look like they’ve fallen out of a Rocky Horror Show with their chunky sunglasses, shoulder padded suits loud colours and teased haircuts.
The first half is an hour followed by a 30 minute break with the second half being 90 minutes. The toilets are inside the main building and facemasks are currently expected to be worn for those without exemptions unless seated in the outdoor theatre.
I was really thrilled to be able to see this production after being away from The RSC since November 2019.
A fun, energetic production filled with slapstick moments, The Comedy of Errors is outside at The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre at The RSC until 26th September 2021 and then heads off on tour until 31st December 2021 to Nottingham, Canterbury, Bradford and The Barbican, London. Book tickets here: rsc.org.uk/the-comedy-of-errors.