Review: The Comedy of Errors, RSC
The Comedy of Errors is the first play to be performed in the RSC’s new Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre. But does it live up to expectations? Read our brand new review.
Shakespeare’s shortest and most farcical comedy, directed by Phillip Breen, was due to be part of the RSC’s 2020 season, but was postponed owing to the pandemic. The topical play sees a father end up in the wrong country on the wrong day as a government makes an announcement about travel (sound familiar?) What ensues is a tale of separated family and mistaken identity.
The Comedy of Errors has undergone a few changes to its 17-strong cast since then, and while we’ve had to wait for this riotous production, there’s something about watching theatre outside (luckily on a warm day with a glass of chilled wine in hand) which makes it even more enjoyable. Every cloud has a silver lining, and this 500-seater pop-up which opened in the Swan Theatre Gardens in July was definitely worth the wait. If it does start raining though, make sure you’ve got your mac as umbrellas aren’t allowed. Take your facemask too as the RSC continues to enforce its own Covid protocol and you’ll need to wear one when leaving your seat.
There’s moments of bold and brilliant comedy which often tip over into the farcical and chaotic, and may leave you rolling your eyes once or twice, but it’s a light reintroduction back into the world of Shakespeare after a unwelcome hiatus.
The lighting was an impressive affair, especially as the sun began to set over gorgeous Stratford, which cast shadows across the stage and made you truly appreciate where you were. And while the acoustics in the new theatre were absolutely glorious the accompanying music brought little to the stand-out show.
Acting was on point particularly with casting of Jonathan Broadbent and Greg Haiste, in his RSC debut, as respectively, Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus. But it was the silent characters who received and deserved the most laughs. A toupee-wearing waiter, a long-suffering shopper weighed down by RSC gift shop bags, a yoga guru in splendid gold shorts – all these comic touches by Breen worked.
The Comedy of Errors is a light-hearted play at a time when we all need a bit of light relief. It’s a chilled introduction to Shakespeare if you haven’t been before, and if you have, then you need to see the new theatre in all its glory.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those craving a light-hearted theatre fix. If you want to see a bit of Shakespeare and don’t fancy sitting through one of his longer plays too this is a good one at around two hours. Also if you’re still not comfortable going elbow-to-elbow inside a theatre this is a good option.
Not for: If you’re not a fan of musicals there was a lot of singing so maybe sit this one out.
See The Comedy of Errors at the RSC’s Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre until 26 Sept.