The Comedy of Errors follows one of the writer's more simple plots. It begins with the arrival in Ephesus of Antipholus and his servant Dromio. There, they find themselves immediately recognised and mistaken for locals. It turns out that the pair's long lost twins (also named Antipholus and Dromio) reside at this port. The confusion stretches out for a near-two hour farce that surely could have been resolved by a calm explanation. But that's not the point, is it?
Performed by a sprightly ensemble of eight, with the cast often doubling and tripling their roles, this is a take on The Comedy of Errors that benefits greatly from a pace and energy that manages to mask the rather slim narrative. Unlike some of his more famous comedies, there feels like there is less playing out under the surface of Shakespeare's text. Yet the company find a somewhat nightmarish quality to the situation, with farcical events escalating in a satisfying manner. Each set of twins brings heaps of personality to their roles, adding to the play's comedic charms, with Colin Campbell and Beau Holland (as the visiting Antipholus and Dromio respectively) having the most fun with their parts. Evelyn Miller as Adriana also made a fine impression, performing a terrific mix of authoritative figurehead and exasperated wife. But this is an ensemble without a weak link that bring a liveliness and physicality to the play. The occasional audience interactions are used well, drawing us in without distracting from proceedings.
One of the benefits of performing in the Old Bodleian courtyard are the exemplary acoustics, which combine nicely with the folk-tinged music, performed by the ensemble, and the crisp, clear delivery of all involved. There is a stripped-back quality to the production, with minimal props and simple costumes. But this is effective at bringing the text to the forefront, in a production that manages to hone in on what makes The Comedy of Errors such a delightful romp. It may not be one of the top tier works by the Bard, but the Globe Ensemble make a fabulous case for this being the Shakespeare you seek out in a sea of open air productions taking place in