Studio A of the Arts Centre at Red Deer College was filled with laughter as Theatre Arts students opened their version of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors last week. Shows continue through this weekend.
The play is said to be one of Shakespeare’s first comedies as well as his shortest play ever written.
The plot revolves around two sets of identical twins that were separated at birth.
Not knowing of one another’s existence, the twins, who both go by Antipholus, are wealthy men who have lived their lives in separate cities and both have a slave who goes by Dromio.
They then go through a series of antics as Antipholus played by Jake Tkaczyk and Dromio played by Jennifer Suter of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus to find that everyone in the city knows their names even though they have never before been there.
They then go through a series of antics that lead to them meeting their twins, Antipholus played by Richard Leurer and Dromio played by Brittany Martyshuk.
Director Jeff Page chose to take a more modern approach on the play that was originally performed in the late 16th century by placing the actors in the 1960s.
Along with the time frame change, Page also chose to cut some of outdated lines that helped to set the time frame. He added they needed to find a time frame with newspapers to allow for the comical scene in which Tkaczyk gets to batter his slave played by Suter.
Head of wardrobe Donna Jopp did an excellent job of setting the period for the show through their clothing, as well as choosing costumes that made the twins appear more alike while still allowing them to be differentiated.
Overall the play was delivered very well, with outstanding performances by all involved.
The two sets of twins in particular, along with Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife, played by Victoria Day held a very strong stage presence and solid command over her lines.
Tkaczyk who played Antipholus of Syracuse gave a memorable performance as he used exaggerated facial expressions and nonverbal cues to convey his character’s emotions.
However, a common mistake that can be made yet perhaps one of the most important things to remember when performing Shakespeare is to deliver lines clearly while still maintaining emotion and momentum.
Many actors can struggle to find the balance between clarity of lines and capturing emotion, and this was evident in the opening act of the play.
The scene opened to Aegeon, father of the Antipholus twins, telling his tale of how they came to be separated. Unfortunately, many of his lines were run together and it left the viewers slightly confused as the lines could not be clearly understood at times, which was not an ideal way to open the play and set the stage. JP Lord played the character of Aegeon and it is notable to mention that his character was a very elderly man.
Lord attempted to form his character by speaking like the old man that his character was, but perhaps went a little overboard as it added to the difficulty of understanding his lines.
Overall, both Leurer and Tkaczyk, who played the Antipholus twins, as well as Lord delivered lengthy, well-spoken and admirably done monologues.
To compliment The Comedy of Errors, head of lighting Valerie Beauchemin and set and lighting designer Daniela Masellis arranged several very well done lighting techniques using coloured lights that really put the finishing touches on the production and added character onto some of the scenes.
Overall, the surprising twists and turns of Shakespeare’s plot, combined with the actors’ comedic deliveries, made this an entertaining production.
The Comedy of Errors runs until Oct. 19th and tickets are available at the Black Knight Ticket Centre or at the door.