"Such joyous and compulsive viewing!"
by Peter Carrington for remotegoat on 29/01/11

The challenge of putting on any Shakespeare play is to make it speak to the audience despite having been written over four hundred years ago. There is a tendency within certain circle for actors to stand tall and try to convey the gravitas of Shakespeare but by doing so the emotion is often lost. The Comedy of Errors, produced by the Sell a Door company does the opposite; with riotous energy they convey the emotion so well that the audience is left laughing and enjoying themselves without worry of language.

The play concerns two identical twins and their two identical twin servants, one searching for the other while the other has made a life in the port of Epheseus. The decision to stage the play at a 1950s seaside is a good one as this not only lends itself to the setting of the play but also the humour of the 50s beachfront allows the cast to take themselves less seriously. In a less skilled casts hands this might have been a mistake but not in this case.

The cast are an eclectic mix. David Eaton and Mark Collier as the two Dromio's, all gangling legs and arms are slapstick gold and wordplay is dealt out expertly by almost all the cast. As the big hearted Antipholus of Syracuse Nico Lennon is perfectly cast; his exasperation at the confusing world of Epheseus brings the whole play together. Equal to this energy is the passionate Sophie Cosson as Adriana, adrift in a sea of jealousy, confusion and frustration but still being sympathetic to the audience. Sarah Llewellyn-Shore plays her sister Luciana as a brilliant, if slightly naïve foil which makes their conversations extremely banter-like. Kenneth Jay plays the part of the doleful Egeon well; expertly handling one of the longest and exposition-heavy speeches Shakespeare wrote. Patrick West-Oram conveys a nobility as Antipholus of Epheseus despite his character's flaws and the supporting cast all hit their targets. This is a real strength of the play; the effortlessness with which the cast handle it makes it a joy to watch.

The beachfront set is marvelous, evoking the spirit of the era and subtly implying the farce to come. It is simple yet effective for the small space. Likewise the lighting and sound designs serve the story well and the director Bryn Holding is ambitious with the space.

The Comedy of Errors is compulsive viewing. It accelerates like any good farce but without falling over itself into self congratulation or parody. Shakespeare meant this to be funny but it is the seriousness of the characters that make it so. This production runs along that tightrope and succeeds. It might seem crass to call the play hilarious but this is genuinely an extremely well rounded and enjoyable production. I loved it and I love Sell a door productions.

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