Theatre review by Henry Ascoli
‘Comedy of Errors’ by Lion & Unicorn Players, Petersfield Festival Hall
Lion & Unicorn Players captured the spirit and energy of this colourful Shakespeare comedy in a vibrant performance which had the Festival Hall audience on the edge of their seats.
In the year of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Players are certainly not alone in paying homage to the Great British wordsmith, but The Comedy of Errors presents something of a different challenge. Its bold, brash and somewhat unsubtle nature is representative of the time it was written, when the actors had to fight for the attention of the audience.
Yet there was no need for this on the night for the Players, as an attentive audience revelled in the entertainment laid out before them…
The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins accidentally separated at birth (Shakespeare was father to one pair of twins). Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus which, it transpires, is the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus.
When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps ensue, leading to near-seduction, wrongful beatings, arrests, theft and madness….
The theme of the circus was evident throughout, the stage bedecked in red and white stripes and the two Dromios dressed up as clowns, thus serving to emphasise the light-hearted nature of the play.
At the heart of the entertainment was Dom Clarke, whose enthusiasm shone through in a breathless performance as Antipholus of Syracuse. And the role of his brother, Antipholus of Ephesus, lay in the more than capable hands of Ben Gander, whose strong stage presence was once again notable.
Two very capable masters were rewarded with two equally entertaining servants, Zoe Leary (Dromio of Ephesus) and Charlie Essex (Dromio of Syracuse) stealing the show with many of the more laugh out loud moments.
And Kat Wootton delivers a fine portrayal of Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife, whose rollercoaster of emotions typifies better than anything the frenetic nature of the play.
Indeed, it is hard to believe that the entire play is based around the events of one day, but director Laura Sheppard succeeded in striking the balance between maintaining the pace of the production and ensuring the audience could absorb its finer details.
Another strong showing from this tight-knit team, whose sheer passion is evident in all they do.