first night

The Comedy of Errors

Liv Race enjoys an afternoon in the sun with CTC's summer Shakespeare: 'The Comedy of Errors'


CTC was fortunate enough for the weather to be absolutely glorious for the opening performance of their annual summer Shakespeare, this year taking on ‘The Comedy of Errors’. The Fellows Garden in the afternoon sunshine had a wonderful atmosphere and set a light and jovial mood before the play had even begun. Ellie Gauge’s direction and all of the actors’ ease and comfort on stage must be commended for ensuring the continuation of the blissful summery feeling.

Upon entering the Garden, being faced with the actors milling around could have worked nicely if they had been in character, however, it felt more like they were stood waiting with lack of a backstage area unsure what to do with themselves. Furthermore, the beginning speeches of the play from Duke Solinus (Dom Williams) and Egeon (Jonathan Packham) felt overly long. For a condensed Shakespeare play to begin with a very static, slow speech immediately detracts from the energy you expect to find. However, saying that, Packham was very natural in his delivery, giving his speech with clarity and conviction.

The stand-out performances came from Tristan Robinson and Dom McGovern playing Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus respectively. Every time they entered the scene they brought much needed energy with them. Although Shakespeare’s lines for these characters establishes them as the key comedic forces, they both took on their characters with an earnest dedication which translated wonderfully into performance. The highlights of the play came from these two. Robinson’s speech on the discovery of his ‘marriage’ to Nell (Jess Christy) was wonderfully done with brilliant energy, great comic timing and believability. Similarly, McGovern’s continual reaction to getting beaten by various characters throughout became more and more funny each time it was repeated, culminating in the hilarity of the rope scene at a moment of heightened confusion and chaos. Gauge’s direction to have Robinson and McGovern always running, or always exhausted, worked brilliantly.

Although the direction and actor’s naturally found humour from the script, I felt Gauge could have gone further with slapstick moments and made more out of the heightened confusion and chaos. Due to the very natural performance of most of the actor’s, Adam Simpson, playing Angelo, stood out as too over the top and exaggerated. His performance felt like he was constantly trying to find comedy in his lines and incessantly searching for a laugh from the audience in his actions. When in conversation, he toned down and became more natural and with this the natural comedy of his lines came through. However, Simpson perhaps stood out due to the lack of the slapstick comedy throughout the rest of the play; as one of Shakespeare’s most farcical comedies ‘The Comedy of Errors’ lends itself to slapstick and I feel Gauge could have played around with this more.

Antipholus of Syracuse’s constant state of confusion was played wonderfully by Harvey Comerford, his facial expressions achieved some of the most deserved laughs from the audience. Alternatively, Hugh Train as Antipholus of Ephesus found humour in his quick paced and angry spiel in the final scene, Train’s head looked as though it could have exploded at any moment. Both Sophie Mcquillan and Jenny Walser gave admirable performances as Adriana and Luciana, however both could have benefited from being louder. Especially when the blocking meant they were often sat on the deckchairs from which it was always harder to hear.

Overall, I really enjoyed CTC’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’ and feel the performance will grow from strength to strength on their summer tour. I wish them the best of luck.

12 June 2015

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
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