Sunday, February 27, 2011

Plays! Especially The Comedy of Errors

Emma and I have stayed busy seeing several Shakespeare plays the last few weeks - we saw a production of The Taming of the Shrew in Seattle, yesterday we saw a broadcast of a production of King Lear running in London right now, starring Derek Jacobi - which was really great - and last week we saw a production of The Comedy of Errors at the Portland Actor's Conservatory. Whew!

If anyone in the Portland area is interested in seeing this production of The Comedy of Errors, it'll be running through March 6th - AND it's next week's play! Perfect timing, right? Both Emma and I enjoyed this production, which captured the silly farcicalness of the story excellently. Though nearly all the cast are student actors, and as such I didn't expect them to be as polished as professionals, there were several strong performances and the whole cast seemed to be fully committed to and take delight in the rollicking tale of separated twins and mistaken identity.

The production had some puzzling aspects - why, for example, was the goldsmith Angelo played by a girl coiffed, bespectacled and costumed to be a Harry Potter look-alike? Was it to play into the play's references to sorcery? If so, why was just one character - who was not, after all, a sorcerer -"wizardy"? In addition, the cast gamely struggled with a set that consisted solely of multiple doors that shook and clanged whenever opened and closed.

However, this production also has THE BEST, most convincing stage twinning that I have EVER SEEN. The two sets of twins really look A LOT alike!

Each of these productions we've seen in the last weeks, with their various concepts - Shrew set in the '60s, Lear set in an empty box with quasi-medieval/Victorian/Japanese costumes, this Comedy of Errors costumed as a modern/Edwardian mishmash with nearly everyone in bare feet - has reminded me that Shakespeare and his stories are so strong that they can support these interpretations. I'm a super picky and critical audience member, but I (nearly) always find a lot of things to appreciate in any production I see. I'm reminded of a Shakespeare in the Park production of the Comedy of Errors I saw last summer, where the entire cast spent most of the play in Edwardian bathing suits. And it was completely delightful!

So hie thee to the theater, and see what Shakespeare says today - on stage.

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