Stage review: Propeller’s “The Comedy of Errors” at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.

(From left) Dromio of Ephesus (Matthew McPherson), Antipholus of Syracuse (Dan Wheeler), Antipholus of Ephesus (Joseph Chance) and Dromio of Syracuse (Will Featherstone).
(Photo credit: propeller.org.uk)

Propeller’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is without a doubt, a memorable one.

For a first time theatre-goer like me (I know I know, I need to get out more) it was an absolute joy to watch a text I’d been studying for my English Literature degree to suddenly come alive – and in such a brilliant way too.

Directed by Edward Hall with a fresh and compelling outlook on the entire play, the chemistry between Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse was instantaneous and so very infectious – the two males as both characters and actors bounced off one another, creating a distinctly Syracusian presence on stage. Later, when Dromio of Ephesus and Antipholus of Ephesus appear on stage, the two sets of twins were easily identifiable. For the audience, there simply was no room for error.

The all-male cast – which admittedly, I was apprehensive about – has done what I feel a balanced female and male cast may not have achieved. With the men so blatantly adopting the female roles and evoking laughter from the onset, the audience is served a farcical comedy on a neatly embellished platter and made to laugh their hearts out. There are no serious or sinister themes underlying this adaptation of the play as Propeller make it clear what they were trying to achieve – a quirky and markedly unique outlook at one of Shakespeare’s funniest works.

Main highlights:

Adrianna
John Tucker as Adrianna.
(Photo credit: propeller.org.uk)

Adrianna’s entrance as she walks on stage with a bright yellow coat, leopard bandanna in her hair and printed leggings to match. Oozing sophistication in his depiction of Adrianna, Tucker is by far the finest actor to grace the stage, depicting her as the shrew and jealous housewife in an exaggerated and absolutely hilarious style and manner. My favourite moment was the portrayal of the line “my blood is mingled with the crime of lust”, where Adrianna is shown kneeling helplessly on the floor and shouting in frankly the most outrageous way. Not to forget the moment when she chases Antipholus of Syracuse in her nightgown, complete with a whip in her hand. Kinky.

The Comedy Of Errors
(Left) Matthew Pearson as the Courtesan.
(Photo credit: rosetheatrekingston.org)

The entrance of the courtesan is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Complete with sexy entrance music, a Geordie accent (a brilliant touch!) bunny ears, a complimentary tail and rather prominent breasts, Pearson transforms the role of a courtesan to one that adds a further comic element to the already effective adaptation.  If the courtesan is easily dismissed in the text, then Propeller only heighten her importance in their interpretation.

Dr Pinch.  What an ENTRANCE. Sending jolts of electricity to the cast on-stage, Brockis arrives and adds a completely new and well needed dynamic to the play. Electrifying the cast as well as the audience, Pinch is depicted as an American preacher-type, a large cross hanging from his neck and a booming, gospel-like voice.  With the organ music playing in the background and the on-stage actirs now enacting a gospel sing-a-long and dance, Propeller yet again transform The Comedy of Errors into a laugh-riot. This is a modern adapatation of Dr.Pinch at its finest.

My Mexican friends/extras.
(Photo credit: secure.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk)

…and lastly, creating the music, providing the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and generally being swell guys – my Mexican, football-shirt wearing, sombrero-rocking friends. You guys were awesome.

Funny, witty and brilliantly original… a truly masterful adaptation. ★★★★★

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