Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
Performed at the Dulwich Picture Gallery on 5th & 6th July, The American Garden in Dulwich Park on 12th & 13th July and The Dell, Stratford upon Avon on 30th August
What do you get if you mix a Dromio, a conjurer and a courtesan? A brilliant Dulwich Players' production of The Comedy of Errors, that's what!
It is the third year running of performing Shakepeare outdoors in a row, and this year's The Comedy of Errors directed by Rebecca Dalloway and assisted by Jan Rae, makes it a spectacular hat trick! It is also the second year running that the open air performances have been intentionally stripped down, both in length and logistical and technical support; and I prefer it this way. Minimalistic set, no bulky lighting deck and endless wires with duct tape, and just a subtle blue tent hiding the 'backstage' blending into the trees, made the whole thing feel more relaxed and somehow a little bit more fun.
The play kicked off with an excellent monologue, tinged with woe, from the hearty Ian Jones. As we continued on our journey through Greece, the cast members' hearty volume and projection remained, with only the occasional dip, perhaps helped by our recent voice workshop and the support of Joshua Bradley-Hall in the cast.
The costume team gave us some eye catching, bright and varied costumes, and I heard a number of mutterings such as 'what a lovely orange!' with each new costume. The space was very well used as characters took to the audience space for their entrances and exits, whilst always maintaining a professional subtlety whilst moving around the grounds.
All the performances were excellent with far too many cast members to congratulate every one individually. Standing out from the crowd, were of our leads with Louise Temple and Alex Curran as the stars of the show as the separated twin Dromios. They were energetic, comic and physically very funny. Pete Bowers and David Sanger as our second set of separated twins, but from a very different class, held the audience's attention and managed the drama well. Two newer Dulwich Player's members who deserve a very enthusiastic nod, were Robyn Howe and Sylvia Ford as the ever confused ladies just trying to get their man to settle down, if they could find the right man in all the twin related confusion that is!
As we all know, it isn't a Shakespeare comedy without a wide variety of characters from different lands, different professions and different walks of life, and as such Joshua Bradley-Hall and Gill Daly gave us colourful (in Joshua's case literally with his bright yellow face) performances with their conjuring and courtesan ways!
Some other nice little touches were some beautiful recorder playing during the interval and really well executed crowd scenes, with all cast members acting and reacting at all the right times. I laughed out loud on a number of occasions and even genuinely shed a wee tear at the romantic ending. But what struck me most about the production was the pace. We all know that amateur performances, with their short rehearsal time periods, balanced with everyone's day jobs and real lives, often means that the pace can be the last struggle we sometimes just can't quite reach; Comedy was not one of those times. Cast were entering and exiting overlapping with one another and coming in with their lines briskly and enthusiastically; a heartfelt well done to Rebecca Dalloway and all involved!
by Sophie Taylor