Tuesday, February 07, 2012

'The Comedy of Errors' by William Shakespeare

7 February 2012

‘The Comedy of Errors’ is a very early Shakespeare play and not one of his best. Even within the parameters of silly farce, the plot doesn't entirely make sense and several of the characters you are meant to care about are less than sympathetic. But it still provides solid material for an enjoyable romp if handled well. Dominic Cooke’s new production for the National Theatre is a very modern take on the play. Set in a seedy, urban, contemporary world it makes good use of the massive stage in the Olivier Theatre, incorporating three-storey buildings which use the full height of the auditorium. I loved the way the passage of years was indicated by the changing sponsors’ names on Dromio’s Arsenal football shirt! The star attraction here is Lenny Henry who gives an impressively restrained performance as Antipholus of Syracuse, with the occasional hysterical outburst, wide eyed astonishment and manic energy all the funnier for their sparing use. Antipholus and Dromio are a classic simpleton double act along the lines of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (though ‘Don Quixote’ was published more than 10 years after the first performance of ‘The Comedy of Errors’) and Lenny Henry and Lucian Msamati make a great team: it is fascinating to see Lenny Henry more often playing the straight man. As the farce begins to take off in the second act there are some great comic moments with crowds of actors pursuing each other around the set. Claudie Blakley and Michelle Terry deserve a particular mention for managing to negotiate the chase scenes in vertiginous high heels!  

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home