THE COMEDY OF ERRORS by William Shakespeare, directed by Richard Rose, with Brendan Murray, Brandon McGibbon, Philippa Domville, Kelly McIntosh, Kyle Horton and Michael Rubenfeld. Presented by Theatre by the Bay at Heritage Park, Barrie. Runs to September 3, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday and Saturday 2 pm. $20, srs $18, child $15. 1-866-735-9243. Rating: NNN
The Comedy of Errors, which focuses on the mix-ups involving two sets of identical twins, is an early, sometimes creaky Shakespeare comedy. Good thing director Richard Rose knows how to rev up its engine.
Revisiting a work that he guided at Stratford in the 90s, Rose and designer Teresa Przybylski give it a contemporary setting, using metal frames to suggest a world of funhouse mirrors, cages and mazes that the characters must navigate in order to sort out issues of love, lust and jealousy.
It takes a while for the laughs to start - the talented Victor Ertmanis is saddled with a clunker of a set-up speech at the play's start, establishing the separation of the twins, one master and one servant in each set - but the cast knows how to run with the material, ably delivering its verbal and physical humour and sometimes taking the comedy out into the audience.
Soon it's easy to get into the fun as Antipholus of Syracusa and his servant Dromio are confused with their look-alikes in Ephesus, where the play is set. To the newcomers, Ephesus is a world of malicious, shape-shifting witches.
As the confused visiting Antipholus, who is mistaken for the husband of Adriana ( Philippa Domville ) but drawn to her exercise-happy sister Luciana ( Kelly McIntosh ), Brandon McGibbon gets the early laughs, while Brendan Murray as his twin brings a more serious feel to his role. The curly-haired, crowd-pleasing Dromios, Kyle Horton and Michael Rubenfeld , are nimble-footed enough to wring chuckles from the work's pratfalls, while Maev Beaty makes a sexy, red-dressed Courtesan and Alan Dilworth a no-nonsense jeweller caught up in the frantic action.
Best of all is Domville's Adriana, here a pregnant wife with an extra reason to be concerned about her husband's philandering. She's able to play with the show's humour, deliver its verse convincingly and mine her character's emotions with wonderfully commanding skill.