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Theatre Review (LA): The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare at A Noise Within

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The Comedy of Errors is one of those plays by Shakespeare that offers carte blanche to directors in terms of what approach to take. I have seen this play in several different incarnations, including a musical one, and one where the Antipholus twins were played by one guy and a heavy comic at that, though that choice did take away from the Dromio character. But the guy won the Olivier Award and I remember enjoying his performance. A Noise Within in Glendale has decided to have both sets of twins played by only two actors, Bruce Turk as the Antipholi, and Jerry Kernion as the Dromo. The results worked quite well and kept both the audience and the actors on their toes. This was all accomplished by wearing jewelry, hats, or other garb.

The Comedy of Errors is based on two Roman plays by Plautus, the Twin Menaechmi which involves mistaken identity between identical twins with the same name, and Amphituro from which Shakespeare borrows identical servants with the same name and a scene where the husband is shut out of his house.Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare earliest plays and one of his shortest (thus a good choice in these days of limited audience attention span.) It is also one of only two Shakespeare plays to observe the classical unities. The story has been adapted for opera, stage, screen, and the musical theatre (Boys from Syracuse). The story is a light-hearted romp involving these matched sets of identical twins separated at birth. In the course of the play the whole family is reunited, with much mayhem and hilarity in the process.

The cast is up to the usual high standards of A Noise Within. I only recognized two of the actors, Bruce Turk from the Old Globe in San Diego, and William Dennis Hunt from shows with this company and with Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga. Turk skillfully handles the demands of playing two roles. Mr. Hunt brings a wry sense of humor to the Duke of Ephesus. Gibby Brand has fun with the Abbess. Egeon is played sympathetically by Michael Stone Forrest. I really liked Jerry Kernion as the Dromo. He displayed split second timing and a good sense of physical comedy. Michael Mihetti is the director and imbues the play with a sense of fun.

The Comedy of Errors runs in repertory with Eccentricities of a Nightingale and The Chairs at A Noise Within until May 14th (the rep continues to the 28th).

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