The Bomb-itty of Errors, at the Royal George Theatre Center. At its best, hip-hop is intensely theatrical, a forum for pointed social commentary and a means of making personal narratives accessible. In a sense, hip-hop's strengths can be tied to the Elizabethan era; Shakespeare was a profound social critic and wily bender of genres. And this hip-hop version of his Comedy of Errors is firmly grounded in the Bard's spirit: audience satisfaction--perhaps the number one priority in Shakespeare's time--is never in doubt given the cast's bawdy, rhythmic deliveries of the playwright's delicious double entendres.
The cast and director Andy Goldberg have taken some liberties, of course: they've transformed the identical twins from Syracuse and Ephesus into a quartet of prodigiously talented, girlie-chasing rappers, intrepid MCs who cross paths not only with the usual complement of angry courtesans and jealous wives but with an assortment of oddball characters--a bike messenger who can't rhyme, a sports-obsessed nun, a Rastafarian doctor. Turntable wizard J.A.Q. provides the funk and beat-heavy backdrop, and the nimble foursome infuses Shakespeare's farce with a renewed sense of purpose. "It's all the same with you rappers and rhymers / You've got no respect for old-timers," comments Hasidic jeweler MC Hendelberg. But this script respects its source--so much that Bomb-itty should appeal to hoary academics and hip-hop fans alike.