Excellent Production from Shakespeare in the Park with “The Comedy of Errors”
“The Comedy of Errors” is one of the bard’s most delightful and beloved comedies. One of Shakespeare’s favorite humorous devices is mistaken identity and “The Comedy of Error’s has two sets of twins to confuse their fellows. D. Lance Marsh directs the fun at Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park in the Myriad Gardens through June 29, 2019.
Separated at birth, the twin sons of Aegean are both named Antipholus, one of Ephasus and one of Syracuse. They each grew up with a child raised to be servants, Dromio of Ephasus and Dromio of Syracuse. When Antipholus of Syracuse journeys to Ephasus in search of his brother bringing Dromio, he is unaware that his father, Aegeon is also there. Although searching for his brother, Antipholus is not at all suspicious at the confusing things that happen as townspeople react to him as if they knew him. He sends Dromio on an errand and when he sees Dromio of Ephasus return having taken care of another errand for a different Antipholos, he is perplexed, but never suspects he has, at last, found his twin. Wife and friends are ultimately duped and angered as well as confused and thus “The Comedy of Errors” reigns hilarious until the two sets of bewildered brothers and the equally discombobulated friends and residents of Ephasus discover the amusing truth.
Leading the upsets are the antics of the Dromio twins. Dromio of Ephasus is played by Tyler John Malinauskas and Dromio of Syracuse is played by Jordan Nicholes. These two actors both have the rubber faces that are such an asset to comedic actors and they use their range of expressions to excellent effect. Malinauskas dances athletically and Nicholes arches a brow each with perfect timing. The slightly more reserved noble twins are Dustin Dale Barlow as Antipholus of Ephasus and Sam Pinson as Antipholus of Syracuse. Barlow’s twin is slightly pompous and Pinson is a bit more easy-going in his approach to life, and the slight difference makes all the difference to the audience. (Wives never seem to notice such things!) They both have an expressive dismay of disappointment hearing of another Dromio failure.
The reactions of others as they fear they have been cheated, or lied to, simply by dealing with the wrong twin are where much of the hilarity lies. The loving but rather bossy wife, Adrianna is played expertly by Rachel Ryan Nicholes, and the slightly shocked sister, Lucianna is another Rachel, Rachel Necessary, creating no puzzlement. The two actresses are deviled by the tangling personalities and each of them displays a delightful anger that quickly departs for the happy final reveal. Mark Johnson is, as usual, excellent as Duke Solinus, and fun as the Officer, and David Pasto is such a pitiful character as the unrecognized Aegeon that a great deal of delight adds to the show. Additionally, Jenna Mazzoccoli and Alison Gregory Jones add a great deal to the characterizations. Abby Bryan and Darius Freeman round out the extremely competent cast making “The Comedy of Errors” a joy to watch!
Marsh’s inventiveness in direction is revealed in a quick glance from Freeman as the goldsmith fearful of losing both his money and jewelry, or the sudden, wise and sultry gaze of Mazzoccoli as the courtesan just as cleverly as the more defined characterizations of the leading cast members. The scene design, costumes and overall technical simplicity of this production adds to the enjoyment.
Shakespeare in the Park plays at Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City and the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter takes us to the indoor Paseo location. August brings us Lauren Gunderson’s “The Book of Will” at 2920 Paseo. Visit www.okshakes.org or call 405 235-3700 for tickets and information.