THE COMEDY OF ERRORS by William Shakespeare, directed by Matjash Mrozewski (Shakespeare in High Park/Canadian Stage). At the High Park.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS by William Shakespeare, directed by Matjash Mrozewski (Shakespeare in High Park/Canadian Stage). At the High Park Amphitheatre. Runs to September 6. Pwyc ($20 sugg), reserved $25. 416-367-1652. See listing. Rating: NNNN
On the comedy side of this year’s Shakespeare in High Park, director Matjash Mrozewski keeps The Comedy of Errors traditional, letting the funny script and strong performances shine without much major modification. It’s subtler than the grandiose, quasi-modernist Julius Caesar, but it works.
Shakespeare ups the degree of difficulty on the old “identical twins separated at birth and coincidentally reunited” gag by giving each identical twin an identical twin servant, multiplying the comic possibilities for mistaken identity. When one twin, Antipholus of Syracuse (Dylan Trowbridge), and his servant Dromio of Syracuse (Naomi Wright) arrive in the port city of Ephesus, they’re constantly mistaken for their local doppelgangers Antipholus of Ephesus (Kyle Golemba) and his servant Dromio of Ephesus (Jessica Greenberg). The quartet is strong in all formations, but Trowbridge and Wright’s performances stand out for their big, comedic intensity.
Mrozewski maximizes the humour in each mix-up as the visiting twin encounters the local twin’s wife, friends and creditors. The pair from Syracuse believe these encounters to be the result of some kind of magical nuisance, while the local twin experiences a Kafkaesque meltdown while his life appears to disintegrate.
Both twins’ frustrations result in regular outbursts of slapstick action well choreographed by fight director Simon Fon. In one of the funniest moments, the local Antipholus is physically subdued and violently exorcised by the quack doctor Pinch (Michael McManus) on the suspicion that he’s possessed.
Teresa Przybylski‘s minimal set suggests a breezy Mediterranean port city, which makes for perfect summer outdoor fare.