Separated twins is a plot device that Shakespeare explored in a few of his plays; COMEDY OF ERRORS was the earliest. Written in 1594 (the year before Romeo & Juliet), it’s one of the Bard’s shortest plays. Shakespeare drew inspiration from two plays by Plautus: “Menaechmi “and “Amphitruo.” There is more rhyme in this piece than in any others I have seen, but the Bard’s brilliant use of language is on full display. The story deals with Antipholus of Syracuse, accompanied by his servant Dromio, who is in search of his twin brother (and Dromio’s). The two sets of twins were separated when a storm hit the ship they were travelling on with their parents. Their father, Aegeon, tells the story of the storm early in the play—depicted cleverly at Hedgerow by shadow play. The pair arrives in Ephesus and is immediately confused for their twins—who happen to live in the town. AND, happen to have the same names. Complications and comedy ensue.
Director Jared Reed really puts his ensemble of young actors through their paces in his wonderfully clever production. Drawing heavily from Commedia Del Arte, five Resident Fellows play fifteen different roles at breakneck speed. There is some very inventive physical clowning to accompany the brisk performances of the cast. Andrew Parcell plays Antipholus of Syracuse and Ephesus with a great deal of charm and solid comedic timing. Jose Ramos, as the Dromios, matches him beat for beat. His playing of the “I could find out countries in her” speech was pitch-perfect. The assorted denizens of Ephesus are played by Madalyn DeFelice, Dave Polgar and Rebecca Cureton. They are a hoot. Cureton portrays Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife Adriana, a police officer and a courtesan. At the end of the play she does all three at once by moving under different hats held by the other two. It is a virtuoso bit of comedy. As Luciana, Luce, 2 merchants and Aemelia, DeFelice is quite fun to watch as well, as she deftly flits between her various characters. A new face in the area, I think we’ll be seeing a lot of her. And Polgar is equally adept as Aegeon, Balthazar and Pinch. He also provides various sound effects throughout the performance that add to the fun of the piece.
All of the action takes place on a sparse yet exceedingly versatile set designed by Zoran Kovcic. The back wall of this old grist mill lends itself perfectly to the look of ancient Ephesus and only a few other pieces are added—including a cleverly pivoting door frame. Cathie Miglionico has provided the ensemble with the perfect costume pieces to create their various characters. Hats, shawls and the like are added to their basic vaudevillian-like ruffled shirts and pants. Lighting and Sound were created by John Tiedeck; his work perfectly complements the action of the play.
As usual, Reed has created a beautifully detailed production, eliciting nuanced performances from his young company. I am a fan. The devil is in the details and he always seems to get them right. This is a really fun time, and I’d recommend it to all. It’s a great way to introduce your kids to the bard—there are plenty of sight gags and the show flies by in an hour and a half. So hurry to Hedgerow for a rip-roaring good time.
COMEDY OF ERRORS
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jared Reed
March 22—April 29
64 Rose Valley Road
Media, PA 19063