Sunday, January 29, 2017

Review of "The Comedy of Errors"

The Hartford Stage production of the Bard’s The Comedy of Errors is one lively, madcap, and eye-popping theatrical affair.  There are many non-Shakespearean elements dropped into the play including an homage to Bollywood musicals, some soft shoe routines, and a bubbly beach blanket movie number. 

Louis Tucci, Paula Leggett Chase and Alexander Sovronsky from "The Comedy of Errors."
Audiences are greeted to this farcical comedy with an intoxicating set design inspired by the cliff-top towns of the Greek island of Santorini.  A small dock, with two anchored boats, completes the picture.  As the show unfolds accordion and bouzouki playing actors accompany actress Paula Leggett Chase in an extended rendition of the song “Never on Sunday,” further setting up the Hellenic tone and mood of the show. After this ten minute prelude the jocularity begins. 

The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s shortest works, revolves around two sets of twins separated at birth and, unbeknownst to each pair, find themselves in the same city on the same day sparking mistaken identities and bedevilment for the citizens of the city of Ephesus.

The large cast is game for the intoxicating pace of the play as they scamper about the stage, romp through open portals, and engage in boisterous and slapstick shenanigans. 

Darko Tresnjak directs with a controlled frenzy.  He has added unique elements that, along with his creative team, make the production a visual feast.  There is so much going on that even the casual Shakespeare fan will be entertained.  The frantic pacing can sometimes get in the way of the dialogue, but the thespians do splendidly getting about their job in between all the wild diversions.
Matthew Macca and Ryan-James Hatanaka in "The Comedy of Errors."
Choreographer Peggy Hickey might be having the most fun as she incorporates many styles of dance, both for just a few cast members as well as the entire company.  The Bollywood inspired number is especially spirited and energizing.

Some of the real stars of The Comedy of Errors are the creative crew.  Foremost is Darko Tresnjak, whose set design is a wonder and feast for the eyes.  The numerous costumes crafted by Fabio Toblini are playful with many being brightly colored confections.  Matthew Richards’ lighting design and Jane Shaw’s sound construction magnify and enhance the onstage antics.

The Comedy of Errors, a zany and diverting production, playing through February 12th at Hartford Stage.

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