THE COMEDY OF ERRORS by William Shakespeare, directed by Kelly Thornton (CanStage). At High Park's Dream site (east of the Grenadier Café). To September 3. $15 suggested donation. See Continuing, page 82. 416-367-1652. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
With Dana Osborne's fantastic Jean-Paul Gaultier-inspired costumes and scratch from Kid Koala on the speakers, The Comedy Of Errors in High Park is one hella frantic and funky night out.
Director Kelly Thornton digs deeply into the story to unearth and highlight themes of doubles, twins and contrasts in Shakespeare's classic tale of mistaken identity.
Twins both named Antipholus ( Kevin Hanchard and Alex Poch-Goldin ) and their twin servants, both named Dromio ( Bradley Brackenridge and Anthony Malarky ) are just the obvious ones.
Lisa Li doubles as the whip-wielding, bustier-wearing Courtesan and as Luce, the hideous, big-assed housemaid, performing two grossly exaggerated versions of female sexuality. Also, Christine Brubaker and Niki Landau as sisters Adriana and Luciana exemplify two different ways to run a relationship, one based on independence, one on codependence .
But in making these and other wonderful yet peripheral details work so hard, plot edges are left ragged. The action starts at a fever pitch. The dialogue borders on shrill from the very first scene, and the slapstick physicality is electric yet ceaseless, like the Three Stooges on speed.
After starting so intensely, the entire cast has nowhere to go. It's exhilarating, but quickly becomes exhausting.
Until the climax, that is. Then, Thornton turns the volume down and kicks the action into low gear, allowing the reconciliation between Egeon ( Ardon Bess ) and Amelia ( Jani Lauzon ), parents of the Antipholi, to unfold sweetly, realistically and quietly at centre stage.
It's a welcome and daring contrast to the rest of the production and leaves the audience on a calm, cool plane.