A word from the director
“Those who say Shakespeare is too difficult for children should hang their heads in shame. He is a passport to new countries of the heart and of the imagination and everyone should have access to him.”
Charles Spencer – The Daily Telegraph
The silent film era was full of clowns – the stage performers of vaudeville thrust onto the silver screen with their physical style, melodramatic gestures, pratfalls, slapstick and comic genius. For some filmgoers, the performance style of these new film icons was too much, but for many, including children (and still to this day) the silliness and cleverness of Laurel and Hardy, Harold Lloyd, Charlie Chaplain and Buster Keaton, to name but a few, is endlessly pleasing. Many of the classic film plots of the silent comedy era were farcical by nature -outrageous storylines, unlikely and absurd circumstances, frantic-paced action, mistaken identities, a major transgression or hidden secret (i.e. often an extra-marital infidelity) sometimes based upon a misunderstanding, containing many absurdities and physical slapstick, often with a concluding chase scene of some kind… and so we came to our version of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’. It is a silly, yet clever, story – mistaken identity, not one, but two sets of identical twins separated when very young, a series of coincidental events all happening over a really short period of time…
The Comedy of Errors is the perfect first Shakespeare for Kids and Adults alike. Completely accessible, this fun and physical abridged version of Shakespeare’s farcical play will appeal to all (except for, maybe, the stuffy purists). The version of the text we are using was abridged by the RSC in association with the renowned clown company, Told By An Idiot. The RSC philosophy is: get them enjoying Shakespeare fearlessly when young, and you may keep them forever.
Jeanne Stacey: Director
Egeon – Joe Llewelyn
Duke Solinus – Ollie Stacey
Antipholus of Syracuse – Will Saunders
Dromio of Syracuse – Will Edden
Dromio of Ephesus – Joseph Vaiana
Adriana – Katie Miller
Luciana – Molly Jenkins
Antipholus of Ephesus – Daniel Boulton
Angelo, a goldsmith – Drew Gregg
Balthasar, a merchant – George Jack
The Courtesan – Rhiannon Bates
Luce, a kitchen maid – Joe Llewelyn
Officers – Ollie Stacey, Joe Llewelyn & George Jack
Amelia, an Abbess – George Jack
Review: Your Harlow. May 2015
IT is often said that you cannot take Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors seriously, and this is the same in Jeanne Stacey’s production. She adopts conventions of the silent film era – using slapstick comedy, melodramatic gestures, intense physicality and some truly excellent reactions – in her direction for Harlow Theatre Company to bring the farce to life.
The play revolves around the separation of two sets of twins who are reunited as a result of a series of seemingly coincidental events in very quick succession, concluding in both a marriage and a reunion!
The cast were made up of past and present students of Phoenix Theatre School, and worked very well under Stacey’s guidance. Will Saunders and Daniel Boulton played the two Antipholus’, with both portrayals being distinctive enough to create different types of humour, but similar enough to notice, in hindsight, that they actually were twins.
Their confused wife was the excellent Katie Miller, who played the alcohol dependent and hilariously scatty Adriana. Molly Jenkins was her servant, Luciana, and the pair’s onstage chemistry was superbly funny.
Drew Gregg was the scheming goldsmith, Angelo, who stood out with a thick, yet clear, accent throughout and some great physicality. His nervous twitch worked similarly to Rhiannon Bates’ boundless reactions, with both ensuring that they embodied their characters throughout.
Joe Llewelyn, Ollie Stacey and George Jack all multi-roled well, with Llewelyn’s portrayal of the rather plump kitchen maid, Luce, being particularly notable.
The two stand out performers from the production, however, were Will Edden and Joseph Vaiana who played the twin Dromio’s. They were bold and energetic throughout and deservedly took the final bow.
Rob Dyer’s simple set design worked very well in conjunction with Stacey’s directorial vision, and the projections detailing the scene and the context were very effective; perhaps more so than in any production I have seen utilise such a method before. The costumes were very apt for each character and helped us to imagine the true farcical nature of the plot.
It was clear that this production was created very collaboratively between the director and the cast in order to make a really fun piece of theatre. The script was adapted to just the right length and made this a comfortable ninety minutes of playful acting.