THEATRE – A Comedy of Errors – Dunstan Playhouse – 4.5K

SMA Kryztoff banner May 13 100dpi_COE2959 By Peter Maddern

It’s a good thing the great Bard did not wholly devote himself to exposing the foibles of humans in terrible tragedies. For if he had, we would have been denied this little gem, one of this earlier works.

The premise is kind of thin – two sets of twins get separated into pairs at a young age, one from each set, one of whom comes from wealth, with the other destined to be a slave. When the play commences they happen to be both be in Ephesus, one set as strangers (Antipholus of Syracuse with his Dromio) in search of their missing siblings, Antipholus of Ephesus (and helping hand – also Dromio) husband of Adriana.

_COE3241Of course, all manner of confusion breaks loose when they get separated and then happen upon the other not knowing who exactly they are while Adriana awaits at home with her sister, Luciana, for their Antipholus to arrive for dinner.

This delightful production, the joint work of the State Theatre Company and Bell Shakespeare, does not just rely on the script to carry the day and embellishes it with all manner of visual and physical humour and a fair smattering of digs at our contemporary world.

The Syracusians, Nathan O’Keefe as Antipholus and Renato Musolino as Dromio dominate with endless reserves of shock, schemes and slapstick. The female siblings, Elena Carapetis as Adriana and Jude Henshall as Luciana are delightfully clueless about what is going on around them with Henshall revelling in the new found attraction and overtures she receives from what she believes is her sister’s husband – the washer scene is a cracker.

The set presents as eight swinging doors that get variously used as an immigration interrogation centre, dingy night club lanes and the street frontage to a monastery. Curiously, while this design halves the usual stage space made available, it sets up somewhat like a stand up comedian’s stage which all seems about right given the treatment that gets meted out.

Eugene Gilfedder’s cameos as Egeon who opens up proceedings and is also the doctor, part Colonel Sanders, part unregistered soothsayer, called in to explain the strange behaviour are great and while Anthony Taufa’s Duke, played as Marlon Brando’s Godfather works nicely, Suzannah McDonald’s Sister Wendy impersonation could be dropped as the lisping all tended to detract from the purpose of her concluding speech of resolution.

But still better to err on the side of the silly fling than the strict form as Imara Savage’s direction is full of fun and invention and sustains a rollicking good pace that farce like this needs to ensure audience members don’t have time to ponder on the improbabilities of it all.

Adelaide has been waiting for the Brookman brothers to deliver on their promise as the new supremos of the State Theatre Company, with Hedda Gabler just an inkling to what may be possible after the near death experience of The Kreutzer Sonata. But this work will surely comfort the doubting Thomases for this Comedy of Errors is seriously fine theatre.

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