The Comedy of Errors | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Comedy of Errors

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THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, Shakespeare Repertory. In this, the Bard's slightest comedy you can feel him learning by imitation, finding his voice by process of elimination. Merrily aping Plautus, he adds a second pair of twins to the ancient Roman's comedy of cascading falsity. As one character modestly puts it, "Here we wander in illusion" (a charming definition of theater). The plot is fueled entirely by mistaken identities: two pairs of look-alikes, masters and servants, get everything so confused they reduce the easily duped citizens of Ephesus to brawling vigilantes.

David H. Bell's curiously Italianate production gets the look wonderfully right. Dex Edwards's evocative Mediterranean piazza, Diane Ferry Williams's gorgeous palette of light, and Susan Mickey's deliciously deceptive costumes create perfect pictures. Add to them a manically acrobatic staging full of juggling, pratfalls, Keystone Kops chases, and double takes, all performed so seriously they're doubly hilarious, and you got lotz o' laffs. Timothy James Gregory and Tim Decker cleverly differentiate the supposedly indistinguishable Antipholus twins, giving the audience salient clues that escape the dull Ephesians. Kraig Swartz's dopey, sweet-tempered servant is well contrasted with James FitzGerald's wily rascal. Providing the only third dimension is Lisa Dodson as Adriana, poignantly depicting a willing wife bewildered enough by one husband, let alone two. In a sidesplitting cameo, Brad Armacost frazzles the befuddled goldsmith to bits. This comedy has no errors.

--Lawrence Bommer

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