Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Pat Flick
Starring Robby Pigott, Daniel Harray, Brad DePlanche, Brandon Roberts
Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Orlando, FL
I love it when a good Shakespeare fart joke comes together. In what must be the most improbable plot from the Bard, two pairs of twin brothers are bound to each other by blood and gold, and then split apart by shipwreck and chance. Both pairs find themselves in Ephesus, one set a respected citizen and his servant, and the other a well fortuned travelers. Miraculously, there dear old dad Aegon (Bob Dolan) shows up right about then, but is in danger of beheading for having been born in Syracuse.
The story pivots on the identical looks of the 2 twin sets. Antipholus of Syracuse (Pigott) is pleasantly surprised at the welcoming reception the Ephesians give him. They hand out gold, cash, and dinner invitations freely, even though he’s been in town less than a day. His twin, Antipholus of Ephesus (Harray) has the worst of it – he’s arrested for failing to pay debts, locked out of his own house by shrewish wife Adriana (Suzanne O’Donnell) and beaten by a courtesan (Jennifer Drew) he turns to when the spare key is missing. Similar fates await the servants, Dromio of Syracuse / Ephesus (De Planche, Roberts). The local boy is beaten and sent on endless wild goose chases while the newcomer gets all the easy jobs.
What sets this production apart from other “Comedy of Errors” I’ve seen the complete abandonment of the plot in pursuit of slapstick humor. With the wildly ludicrous plot, the first time anyone thinks about why anything is happening, the show slips apart. We are spared that eventuality by good casting. DePlanche has a long history of comic support roles in OSF shows; this is one of his best. His highlight came with the extended fart joke sequence in the second act. With half the mass, Brandon Roberts gets picked up and run around stage more than anyone else. Anne Herring appeared far too briefly as the Abbess late in the last act, even though she got to push a cart of fish around before intermission, and the Pigott/Harray roles were filled with excellent slow burns and snappy comebacks. It’s hard to imagine a better set of players.
The energy this show packs blows you away, there’s never a slow moment or a missed joke. With it’s new, easier to pronounce name, Orlando Shakespeare Theater is out of the gate running with a stellar opener – a Shakespearian comedy that’s really funny!
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