A Modern Comedy of Errors, Fall 2016
Directed in the first Fall slot of 2016 at the University of Wyoming, my production of The Comedy of Errors was staged in just over three weeks, with auditions happening the first day of classes. The script was heavily cut and arranged, modernizing some of the language, rearranging some scenes, and even re-writing some of the lines that would not have gone over in the modern setting or with a modern audience. It incorporated video projections – the opening section included a parade of characters after the curtain speech, to introduce the key figures (up to about 1:40 in the following video, which was part of the projection content), which segued into a character channel surfing (the second half of the video) which introduced some of the characters and exposition, with a few cameos from faculty and our previous Acting for the Camera class.
Director’s statement and gallery follows:
Was ever such a lively house built on such a ridiculous foundation?When Shakespeare gave us The Comedy of Errors in his First Folio(a copy of which was recently seen on tour in Cheyenne), he tookthis farcical form perhaps as far as it could ever be pushed, and itsregular productions around the world show that he somehowmakes it work.
Building off the Roman play The Menaechmi, Shakespearedoubled-down on the premise – literally – making one set ofidentical twins into two. Now not only do we need to believe thatthere is a set of identical twins, with identical names, separated asbabies… but that there are two, and they’re sets of master/servantin raised separate nation-states, reunited through a prolonged andfarcical series of accidents. Naturally, they all just happen to dresssimilarly that day as well. All of this is packed in amongst a lovestory and a near-tragedy of an estranged father searching for hischildren in a hostile land, and then crammed into one ofShakespeare’s most compact plays.
What we get is a glorious ride from a probably unbelievablepremise which will, if we let it, pay off in the believable strugglesand redemption of an ensemble of understandably overwhelmedcharacters: Antipholus of Ephesus, his wife Adriana, and his slaveDromio find they can no longer trust even their own perceptionswhen the identical twins they didn’t know existed, Antipholus andDromio of Syracuse, come to town. The Syracusians (banned by lawfrom entering Ephesus, so trying to keep a low profile) have actuallybeen looking for their long lost twins for years, but have no ideathey’ve arrived at their very doorstep. Add to this the estrangedfather who raised the Syracusian pair having come here looking forthem, also unaware of the presence of both of his children and theirslaves, stir the pot with a little nationalistic hostility, marital strife,unpaid debts, and some class issues, and serve hot – it’s the recipefor high-energy, highly theatrical hijinks!
I hope you enjoy tonight’s offering, and thank you for supportingthe arts in Wyoming.— Kevin Inouye