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The Comedy of Errors
Published on Tuesday, 15 May 2012

3 stars

The Warren (venue website)
13 May, 3:00pm-4:00pm; 19-20 May, 4:30pm-5:30pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.
 2-for-1 tickets for Friends of the Fringe members.

Adapting a Shakespeare play for 7-year-old children upwards sounds like a foolhardy task. Unless you’re planning to go all out and modernise the language (and possibly also make the main players cartoon lions), you’ve got a big barrier to getting the plot across.  Even most adults precede a trip to a Shakespeare play with a sneaky bit of research into the story.

But The Comedy of Errors is a good choice for this style of adaptation. The tale of two sets of identical twins, constantly mistaken for one another, is pretty broad – although it is, also, one of Shakespeare’s more riotously confusing tales. In fact, even the characters are confused, most of the time.

The adaptation, running at just an hour, does remarkably well in preserving all the notes of the tale – including one of Shakespeare’s finer dirty jokes about a woman shaped like a globe.  The young people of OnO Theatre company are full of fizzing energy, weaving about swapping places and ranting about the confusions that heap upon them.  The two Dromio’s offer some exquisite facial expressions that were a definite comedy highlight.

There are some nice visuals too; nifty work with deckchairs, and a lovely opening piece with newspapers.  These portions of the show, along with a raving Adriana convinced her husband is possessed, stand alone as comic set pieces.  Familiarity with the story, though, would probably enhance the experience even more. 

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.