Comedy of Errors
Wadham College Gardens

Newly-transferred from London's Lincoln Inn, The Oxford Shakespeare Company's madcap musical Comedy of Errors comes to the beautiful Wadham College gardens for just one week; and from the moment they stamp out of their flimsy portable stage, dressed up for a revue show and ready to sing, a Commedia Dell'Arte troupe from the world of the silver screen, selling a beguiling mix of screwball, slapstick and tantalisingly familiar show-tunes, they win. Egeon has twin sons, the sons have twin slaves; one half of the twins he lost at sea, when they were babies; the others went off seven years ago to find their long-lost brothers. Now Egeon has stumbled into trouble in Syracuse where (unknown to him) everyone else in the story has also come to roost. So there are two sets of  identical brothers wandering about town. They also have the same name ... and a chaos of mistaken identities, jealous tirades and furious mistakes ensue. Taking their cue from films, the same actor plays both roles, so Henry Everett provides enough charm for two leading men, coolly fast-changing from melancholy, flirtacious traveller to forceful bad-boy businessman, while Cory English, ready for anything from a random tango to a discussion of a
textual uncertainty, also has to clown, brag and take the lumps for two conniving servants. Carolyn Tomkinson is Antipholus' fast-talking wife Adriana, quick with words or  fists, a hilarious, sexy double-act with sister Luciana (Stephanie Langton, tittering and flipping her bunches).  Dermot Canavan plays all the old women, fast-changing from wimpled abbess to fringed courtesan with perverse panache; acrobatic Richard Eckles poses, pouts and preens as the young men. Look out for a Pythonesque Stephen Harvey, in the pantaloon roles, and a terrifying turn
from Simon Goodall as some unholy cross between Peter Lorre and Bruce Forsyth.

Jeremy Dennis, 02.06.04