The Comedy of Errors: Fanshawe College turns Shakespeare on its head & rocks the house!
- Written by Jamie-Lee Wilson
The Comedy of Errors
Presented by Fanshawe College Theatre Arts 2013 Graduating Class
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Charlotte Gowdy
Set Design by Beckie Morris
Costume Design by Laura Gardner
Lighting by Craig Blackley
Sound effects/Music Design by Gil Garratt
Fight Choreography by Brad Rudy
Dance Choreography by Amy Staines
Played by Thomas Fox, Alexander Johnson, Hunter Rogers, Ian Coppin, Cameron Ecker, Raymond Moreau, Olivia Quinn-Smith, Tabitha Carter, Emily Middleton, Marysa Finnie, Anastasia Bobovyk, Christopher Kovaliv, Wessam Didi, Julia Hunter, Ashley Riley, Jessica Annand, Catherine McGowan
The works of William Shakespeare are considered by some to be tough to understand, antiquated, and generally not a lot of fun. The Fanshawe College Theatre Arts presentation of A Comedy of Errors is a wild, rockin’ ride that stands that notion (and occasionally, a cast member) on its head!
From the Brady Bunch-style poster to the toe-tapping rockabilly soundtrack, elements reminiscent of Eric Von Zipper’s Rat pack, dynamic dance numbers, well played fight scenes, and quirky characters, this version of Shakespeare’s timeless farce gives a medieval tale of mistaken identities a fresh face that never takes itself too seriously.
The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were separated from their twin brothers as babies. When the ship carrying Syracusian trader Egeon, his wife, twin sons, and the twin boys bought by Egeon as slaves for his sons, sinks into the ocean, Egeon survives with one of each set of twins lashed with him to the one mast, and the other set of twins lashed to his wife. He loses sight of his wife and the other two boys and doesn’t know their fate. Many years later, his now grown son, Antipholus of Syracuse, along with his slave Dromio, sets out to find his long lost brother. Egeon follows, and ends up facing execution in the town of Ephesus unless he can pay a fine of a thousand marks. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their long lost twins in Ephesus, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, misplaced money, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession, among other things.
Set design was a simple, elegant backdrop for the wild misadventures to come. Initially, we (the audience) became part of it; a crowd witnessing the impending doom of Egeon in the town square. At various times, it became the home of Antipholus of Ephesus, different parts of town, the entrance to the Abbey, and even the ocean on which Egeon’s ship and family were rent asunder. The action all takes place in one space – as the play all takes place in one day. Characters and props disappear and re-appear through three doorways at the back, as do the characters disappear and re-appear in each other’s lives. We are a part of the scene and then we are not. The elasticity of time, space and identities are woven throughout the play in the same way that the set allows various settings all to take place in one spot. Scene changes (for the most part) did not surreptitiously take place during a brief darkening of the lights, with a scuttling of hurried footsteps. Props were removed and installed by hilariously jumpy, supernatural creatures, always watching the audience as if in fear of imminent attack. Set changes became a very funny part of the play.
The Rockabilly musical score and multi-coloured disco-ball light got this party started and kept it energized from start to finish. We had a sense that although a few hundred years have passed, people are still pretty much the same. We all like a good time! The choreography and exuberant dance performances will make you want to get up and boogie too. Costumes were colourful and engaging eye candy juxtaposing those of the medieval period with edgy, modern, rock/punk looks.
Great performances from this talented group made the play easy to follow and loads of fun! Marysa Finnie as the Goldsmith Angelo has the rubbery, comedic facial expressions of a Jim Carey or Jenny McCarthy. Olivia Quinn-Smith as Adriana is just as talented a physical comedienne. Tabitha Carter (Luciana) turned in a romantic and sincere performance as the loyal sister who can’t help but love the man she thinks is her brother in law. Other cast members performed amazing acts of contortion, gymnastics and feats worthy of the circus.
Infused with slapstick comedy, great music and joie de vivre, this production of A Comedy of Errors is not to be missed!
Jamie-Lee Wilson is a mild mannered Project Manager by day and crime fighter by night (if you consider teenage children who spend their time watching reality T.V. and eating Kraft dinner and wieners a crime). She grew up in Toronto where she attended York University. Jamie moved to London in search of cheaper parking.
Photos by Agata Lesnik