The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Performed during 2008
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Reviewed by Diana Eccleston for The Croydon Advertiser
Theatre in the open air is always a hazardous affair in England, but happily the night I went to see Theatre Workshop Coulsdon present their latest al fresco offering the weather couldn't have been better.
The Comedy of Errors is thought to be one of Shakespeare's earliest plays and its merry concepts of mistaken identity and lots of hi-jinx as a result are perfect fare for relaxed viewing.
So, in the garden at the company's regular summer haunt the Woodman in Woodmansterne, they fielded a first class team to entertain us.
Luke Argles did an excellent job as director, keeping the comedy bubbling along with all the knockabout stuff well timed and certainly owing something to the legendary Basil Fawlty.
The plot concerns two sets of twins – two masters both named Antipholus and two servants both named Dromio for reasons too complex to go into here – who were separated in childhood and meet up again by chance.
The costume and make-up department did a superb job of actually making the twins look alike. The Antipholuses had good wigs and had grown matching beards while, helped by their hats, the Dromios were hard to tell apart.
The servant duo came in for of a lot of physical abuse which was hilarious, so full marks must go to Paul Ford and Chris Blakeney for the way they coped with all the kicks and blows.
Doling it out were Mike Brown and Richard Lloyd, both excellent too – with the latter reminding me very much of the late lamented Oliver Reed at his swashbuckling best when he got down to some sword play.
Neil Grew was a camp delight as the goldsmith and Luke Argles had fun with the cod French accent as the foreign merchant.
Bruce Montgomery added to the fun as a crazed doctor and getting the rotund Tim Young into skirts and a long wig to play Nell the kitchen wench was a masterstroke.
Sophie Fisher was a forceful Adriana, contrasting nicely with Lisa Lloyd as her gentle sister Luciana. Simeon Dawes was the regal Duke with Chris Argles as the sad Egeon, father of the Antipholus twins, who has been condemned to death.
The simple set worked perfectly in the garden surroundings and the puppets used to illustrate the lengthy opening monologue by Egeon to set the scene quickly got us in the right mood for what was to follow.
Bravo to all concerned. This was not an easy project and with bags of commitment, imagination and attention to the delivery of the comedy lines it turned out to be a very enjoyable evening's entertainment.
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