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Play by Shakespeare. Directed by Kathryn Hunter.
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First recorded performance at Gray's Inn, 28 December 1594.
First recorded performance at the Globe, 28 May 1999.
Comedy "is an imitation of the common errors of our life," which the dramatists represents "in the most ridiculous and scornful sort that may be, so as it is impossible that any beholder can be content to be such a one." Sir Phillip Sidney 1583.
The city of Ephesus, a cult centre of the goddess Diana, with a bad reputation for pagan magic, has inflexible laws about
immigrants. When a stranger searching for his lost family and servants is sentenced to death, the goddess fortune plays her
part, reuniting the scattered family and restoring the battered self.
"One of these men is genius to the other:
And so of these, which is the natural man,
And which the spirit?" Act V i
Drawn from a Roman comedy by Plautus, and possibly one of Shakespeare's first plays, The Comedy of Errors is a zany urban
play of mad confusions in the classic master/servant mould.This hilarious play reveals the hidden strangeness in the ordinary and conventional.
Cast includes Marcello Magni as both 'Dromios' and Vincenzo Nicoli as both 'Antipholuses' along with Paul Chahidi, Avril Clark, Harry Gostelow, Leader Hawkins, Jan Knightley, Terry McGinty, Jules Melvin, Robert Pickavance, Philippa Stanton, Richard Trahair, Martin Turner and Yolanda Vazquez.
Other plays at Shakespeare's Globe TheatreOther plays at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's New Globe Theatre and Exhibition
SHAKESPEARE'S GLOBE Theatre Previewed 28 May, Opened 3 June 1999, Closed 25 September 1999
Extracts from the reviews:
"This brash, bold staging teeters on the brink of pantomime, but gives many of the scenes involving the mixed-up twins real comic zest. A good thing, too, since Magni and Nicoli barely differentiate the Ephesian Dromio and Antipholus from their Syracusean brothers... Magni's manic capering utterly dominates the show. It's an inspired act, recalling Robin Williams's improvised riff as the genie in Disney's Aladdin. His argument with himself through a locked door brings the house down, although some of the applause deserves to go to the carpenter who built such a versatile entrance." The London Evening Standard
"...Watching Shakespeare here is unlike watching it anywhere else. There are constant distractions from the very visible audience, who move freely around the courtyard, and there are no lavish sets or lighting effects to focus the attention. Sometimes, especially during daylight, the actors seem dwarfed by the strangeness and the splendour of the building. Yet there is no mistaking the enthusiasm of the audience's response (mercifully now much less panto-ish than it was) and at every production there are moments of illumination, when you seem to be glimpsing into Shakespeare's enigmatic heart...[Kathryn Hunter] has each set of twins played by a single actor, a tactic that can work triumphantly. Unfortunately neither she, nor the two actors, distinguishes sufficiently between the roles, leading to confusion. Yet there are moments of delight even here. As Antipholus of Syracuse, a stranger in the spooky old town of Ephesus yet greeted with familiarity wherever he goes, the broad, brick-faced Vincenzo Nicoli has a lovely, Tommy Cooperish air of benign bewilderment, while Marcello Magni has some inspired sequences of clowning as the two Dromios." The Daily Telegraph
"Before an enthusiastic audience Kathryn Hunter's production steadily turns this play into Shakespeare as if edited by John Godber: The Wacky Show of Knockabouts. It is the approach that looks likely to prevail in this replica Elizabethan playhouse... A curious feature of this production is that the knockabout is largely absent until the second half. Even Marcello Magni, whose commedia tricks can turn a text to mincemeat, starts off as an unusually restrained Dromio of Syracuse; nor does he go wild even when also playing his twin, the Dromio of Ephesus, with the aid of a revolving door. Hunter stages this scene cleverly, whizzing her cast this way and that around the doorway. Vincenzo Nicoli, playing both the Antipholuses, also hails from Italy, and when he and Magni's Dromio arrive from Syracuse they do so in the costume of Sicilian sailors, hastily changing into the local garb of Turkish gown, pointed slippers and fez. The Middle Eastern feel of Ephesus is extended into the music and the interior furnishings. So far, so good. Nicoli has the advantage of looking
like an old-style Hollywood hero, a sort of Tony Curtis with height, but he also boasts a voice that carries well and, when he sits on the edge of the stage to talk of his missing twin, is both audible and gives the flavour of sorrow to his words. He distinguishes the bewildered Antipholus from the angry one well enough, although he misses the presence of pain in the outrage, but then this is a production that pays no attention at all to the darker griefs of mistaken identity or loss of self..." The Times