Well, almost. A dozen years ago, Steve Vaughan directed a production of William Shakespeare’s 420-year-old bit of foolishness – one of his first plays and by many accounts, his shortest – “The Comedy of Errors,” for Shakespeare in Delaware Park.
If memory serves, Vaughan’s work that summer was faithful to fun and loyal to text with just the right amount of tweaks on an aged script to keep it from a Hoyt Lake tanking.
“The Comedy of Errors” has returned, again directed by Vaughan in colorful, speedy fashion. A little more music has been added this time around, an assortment of melodies by composer Randy Andropolis played by keyboards, strings, some brass and kazoo accompanists, with reminders of Keystone Cops chases, some vaudeville and bits of Abbott and Costello. In other words, Bardolatry is spruced up, sillied even more. No harm done in this second and last play of SDP’s annual “season,” its 39th.
The story needs much explaining. Very often, “Comedy” audiences and possibly the casts don’t know who’s who or what’s what until the resolve – and that takes its time getting there. Know this much: Two sets of twins – the masters both named Antipholus and their servants, both named Dromio – are separated by shipwreck off the Greek coast. Parents were cast adrift, too, washing ashore in different countries. So, one Antipholus and Dromio combo grows up in a seaport town of Ephesus, the other in rival Syracuse.
After some time, years, of search by the father of the lads takes him to Ephesus where, wouldn’t you know it, his Syracuse son is looking for his long-lost brother. You can imagine the havoc caused among the Duke, city folk, the merchants (there’s a confusing flap about a gold necklace that’s given to the wrong Antipholus) and particularly confounds a wife, Adriana, who wonders about the behavior of her husband – again the wrong twin. And the Dromios? Don’t ask. Instructions go awry, messages get mixed up. The families are finally reunited after a great deal of sorting out. Break out the kazoos.
Legendary actor Orson Welles once wrote that Shakespeare’s plays covered every mood of a man’s season. He wrote about starlight, fireflies, the sun, the moon, Welles said, and he wrote with “tears, blood and beer.” “The Comedy of Errors” perhaps doesn’t have all that to recommend it, but it is full of fun and frolic designed in 1594 to take Elizabethan minds off a rampaging plague. Well, luckily we don’t have that but we can use a laugh or some giggles and Vaughan has populated this latest incarnation of “Comedy” with plenty of both. It’s just lightweight, no-think, rollicking Shakespeare.
The cast is large and multitalented, led by the visiting Steve Braddock, veteran performers Greg Gjurich, Lisa Ludwig and the fiery Kay Kerimian and, of course, the “twins:” Adriano Gatto and Nathan Winkelstein, as the Antipholous brothers; and Norm Sham and Nick Lama as the portly Dromio boys. Sham has wonderful moments with a bawdy few minutes about a certain kitchen maid, Nell: “She’s, well, spherical, like a globe,” he describes, “I could find countries in her.” And then there is a description of where France and Spain and England might be. Sham and Shakespeare belong together.
Others of note include Billy Horn, Lauren Nicole Alaimo, Brittany Bassett, Shabar Rouse, Maria Caruso and, in a very smart choice, Channel 7 weatherman Mike Randall, as goldsmith Angelo; outdoor theater can always use a meteorologist-in-residence.
There’s some choreography by Terri Filips Vaughan. Set designer is Nathan Elsener.
Shakespeare buffs are fond of saying “Where there’s a Will, there’s a play.” Currently, that play is “The Comedy of Errors.” It’s a nice way to spend a summer night.
“Comedy of Errors”
3 stars (Out of four)
Presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park through Aug. 17 in Delaware Park, behind the Rose Garden. Free.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. For information, visit www.shakespeareindelawarepark.org.