"Superlative production of Shakespeare farce"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 15/12/18

Some critics disdain Shakespeare’s farcical comedies, as inferior to his more serious plays. However, Bromley Little Theatre prove them wrong with this gloriously over-the-top-production of The Comedy of Errors. Antipholus of Syracuse (Fergus Macdonald) and his servant Dromio (Gavin Dyer) are in Ephesus searching for their long-lost twin brothers (Joe Dominic and Richard Stewart), who were wrecked in a storm which also took their mother. However, they don’t realise that both halves of each pair have settled in Ephesus and have settled down, with Antipholus of Ephesus (Dominic) married to Adriana (Holly Wilson). What’s more, because both Antipholus and Dromio look so much like their twins, they are constantly mistaken for each other, with hilarious complications.

The real strength of this production, set in an approximation of Southwark’s famous Christmas market, is that while no-one holds back, every character behaves in a completely logical way. This means that the slapstick and comedy accentuates the farce, rather than being a distraction. As a result, the play speeds along with a huge amount of energy. Macdonald and Dominic are able to strike a perfect balance between being similar enough to make the mistaken identity plausible, but still ably portraying the differences in personality. For example, while the womanising Dominic is arrogant and haughty, Macdonald is more idealistic (at least where Sarah Kidney’s Luciana is concerned).

The supporting roles are also strongly performed. For instance, Holly Wilson’s Adriana is a mixture of anger and despair while Sarah Kidney is endearingly daffy as her sister. Indeed, there is a brilliant visual gag with her reading a cat magazine on her own. Dyer and Stewart have amazing comic timing, as well an ability to take a huge amount of punishment. Omar Alexander-Kayn is a deliciously camp Angelo, while Mike Azzopardi gets a lot of laughs as one of the Duke’s (Christopher Cullen) henchmen. Yasmina Angeni provides the deus ex machine as the Abbess. Other cast members include Allen Sproule, Christopher Nelson, Ann Morgan, Jan Greenhough, Roxana Graves, Charlotte Christie and Dean Louis Browne.

Overall, this is an amazing production that could teach some of the best professional companies in the country a thing or two about comedy. Directed by Hilary Cordery.

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