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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 15, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 28
Comedy of Errors brings accessible Shakespeare to the park
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Comedy of Errors brings accessible Shakespeare to the park

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

The Comedy of Errors
Various parks
Through August 7
Take two sets of twins, lash one of each to a mast with one parent each, have a storm, have the mast break, have the mast parts go in two different directions, and cut to 20 years later. Then make it a musical and you have the current parks-playing version of The Comedy of Errors as done by Seattle Shakespeare Company and Wooden O.

This is one of Shakespeare's most accessible plays, and the most fun. While it's improbable plot-wise (as many Shakespeare plays are), the language is easy to understand and the jokes are plentiful. This is vaudeville hundreds of years before the form.

So what does George Mount do? He transmogrifies the play to vaudeville, adds a masterful piano player (Ray Allen), and mixes in some original musical compositions by Kim Douglas. Douglas uses actual text, which already rhymes pretty well, and turns it into viable songs that liven up an already lively production.

A strong cast - including one of the best classic clowns in town, Chris Ensweiler - makes the play a romp. Ensweiler plays one of the servant twins, Dromio, and is matched in silliness by David S. Hogan. While they don't look alike, the context of the traveling vaudeville troupe makes that moot. The clothes match, and that's the ticket.

Richard Nguyen Sloniker and Brian Claudio Smith play the gentleman twins, Antipholus. (Both sets of twins ended up with the same name, naturally.) One Antipholus is married to Adriana (Vanessa Miller), who has a sister, Luciana (Chiara B. Motley). Of course, the other Antipholus falls for the sister - how convenient - but she doesn't know it's not her brother-in-law.

The cast is rounded out with Allan Armstrong as their father, Noah Luce as the noble of the town, Keith Dahlgren who gets to be a weirdly creepy ventriloquist, Hannah Mootz as the resident eye-candy, and Cecelia Frye who plays multiple roles and ends up being revealed as Mother Mother (she's the mother of the Antipholi, but has ended up as a nun - just go with it).

They all have to sing and dance, and generally have pleasing voices, some stronger than others. Since a park play means they have to work to project more than usual, singing without straining is not an option. The sheer fun of it means that purity of voice is no focus. The novelty of Shakespeare's words turned to song allows for even meaner singers than these to get away with it.

For a calendar of park appearances and other information, visit www.seattleshakespeare.org.

Two other Shakespeare plays, produced by GreenStage, are also playing at various parks this summer. Antony and Cleopatra and The Tempest can be found at a calendar at www.greenstage.org.

Slightly farther north, Last Leaf Productions also has two Shakespeare plays in parks: As You Like It and The Merchant of Venice can be found at www.lastleaf99.org.

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