Review: Comedy of Errors

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The award-winning Sell a Door Theatre company has returned to the Greenwich Playhouse to put on Shakespeare’s nonsensical play The Comedy of Errors. Flanked by the river Thames, the Greenwich Playhouse is an inviting, quaintly-decorated venue, increasingly present on London’s cultural map. When the lights dimmed, the audience quietened with excitement and became seduced by Shakespeare’s witty use of confusion and mistaken identity – reminiscent of Twelfth Night. The performance had something for both the committed Shakespeare fan  and those far less knowledgeable – it intoxicated all.

The acting was sometimes affected by the slapstick nature of the comedy, often overplayed by some of the actors. Credit, however, must be given to Mark Collier and David Eaton, who played Dromio of Syracuse and Dormio of Epheseus to perfection, bringing the performance to life with their unremitting energy. They gave confident, humorous performances which were applauded with almost constant laughter by a captivated audience. Also noteworthy were Sarah Llewellyn- Shore (Luciana) and Nico Lennon (Antipholus of Syracuse), who both connected with the audience in a way that some of the cast failed to, delivering their lines with conviction and emotion. As for the rest of the cast, the acting was inconsistent and at times flat, perhaps due to a lack of chemistry as opposed to a lack of talent.

The set was minimal but effectively used throughout, an important attribute used to add comic value to the entire piece, with the actors frequently seeking refuge inside the beach huts. The sound of waves successfully transported those present to the seaside. Lighting was perhaps too dim, and did not evoke the imagery of the beach, but was nonetheless skilfully utilised to connect the actor with the audience, so as to separate them momentarily from the action and allow the deliverance of explanatory monologues.

The small stage helped the nature of the play, with the actors standing close to the audience and thus offering an intimate portrayal of the unfolding comedy of errors. The actors moved around the stage with ease. The use of physical theatre on one occasion was a skilled, fitting and clever way of incorporating and interacting with the props.

This production was overall a well-executed piece, under the skilful direction of Bryn Holding. Although individually some characters failed to captivate, this was not detrimental to the play’s overall success. The production was an evening of riotous laughter, much of which must be attributed to Shakespeare himself. The plot itself calls for hilarity and sets the precedent for entertainment, making this production a must-see for anyone seeking an evening of intelligent comedy.

The Comedy of Errors is playing at the Greenwich Playhouse until 20th February. For more information and to book see their website.