Comedy of Errors cast

Saturday evening saw a packed house for Bard on the Beach’s 26th season opener The Comedy of Errors, where Goth meets Steampunk.

At two hours (plus intermission), The Comedy of Errors is Shakespeare’s shortest production and is filled with comedic twists and turns, the theme of mistaken identity a key player.

A menacing tone is immediately injected into the smoke-filled opening sequence as the characters make their way onto the stage, many via florescent green, blue and red floor tile openings.

Josh Epstein, Andrew Cownden
[Josh Epstein, Andrew Cownden]

Staged on two levels, a one-handed clock high above spins wildly to the sound of the tolling bell, creating a lively, animated environment during set/scene changes (provided by the wizardry of Scenery Designer Pam Johnson). While enjoying the story unfold, we admired the attention to detail of the main set, representing a giant machine, many of its parts used to create sound effects as well.

The stage set reveals a lot of beautiful and pleasant surprises. There’s more to it than meets the eye.

The Comedy of Errors begins as Syracusian trader Egeon (Scott Bellis) faces execution when he’s discovered in Ephesus (a law in place forbids merchants from Syracuse from entering Ephesus). As he tells his tale of woe to the Duke of Ephesus (Jeff Gladstone), the Duke takes pity on the poor old man and grants Egeon a one-day extension to pay the 1,000 mark fine.

Dawn Petten, Jay Hindle
[Dawn Petten, Jay Hindle]

That plot line is moved aside when Antipholus of Syracuse arrives in Ephesus, sending his push scooter-riding servant, Dromio to deposit money at a nearby inn. Where things start to get complicated is when Antipholus of Ephesus and HIS servant Dromio (of Ephesus of course) are unaware that they’ve identical twin brothers.

Imagine the odds: there’s two sets of each: Antipholus and Dromio. This causes much confusion for Adriana (Antipholus of Ephesus’s wife, played by Sereana Malani), who’s dumfounded when he refuses to come back home after sending Dromio out to summon him to dinner.

Of course, Dromio’s relayed the message to the wrong dude, and from here, you can see how the hilarity of the situation mounts, with one mistaken encounter after another. While The Comedy of Errors isn’t a particularly deep story, it relies on pure confusion and and madness to drive it along.

Lindsey Angell, Ben Elliott
[Lindsey Angell, Ben Elliott]

Both Ben Elliott and Jay Hindle (Antipholus of Syracuse, Antipholus of Ephesus) have demanding roles that they pull off with ease. As well, Dromios Dawn Petten (Ephesus) and Luisa Jojic (Syracuse) are hilarious as the twin servants.

Daniel Doheny (as Adriana’s chambermaid Maud) hasn’t much to say during the two hours, but boy is he a visual treat to behold!

Lindsey Angell, Dawn Petten, Daniel Doheny, Sereana Malani
[Lindsey Angell, Dawn Petten, Daniel Doheny, Sereana Malani]

20-year Bard veteran actor Scott Bellis envisioned the play as a broken machine and was inspired by the writings of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells to infuse the steampunk style into this Bard production. Steampunk marries an alternate history (or future) with advanced analog technology (think cogs, rivets, clocks), traced back to the 19th to early 20th centuries.

Luisa Jojic, Andrew Cownden, Ben Elliott
[Luisa Jojic, Andrew Cownden, Ben Elliott, dining on a cog-shaped table!]

The costumes are spot on, and Bard founding member Mara Gottler surely had a blast putting together the Victoria-era garb, outfitting the cast with masks, goggles, helmets with ear flaps, leather, stockings, knee-high boots, all unique, working together to highlight this zany story.

The elaborate steampunk costumes serve to further illustrate the madness of the entire situation.

Luisa Jojic, Jeff Gladstone, Dawn Petten Lili Beaudoin
[Luisa Jojic, Jeff Gladstone, Dawn Petten; Lili Beaudoin]

Sereana Malani portrays Adriana as strong and outspoken, clearly showing her frustration as the play mounts and her husband is believed to be insane by The Courtesan (Lili Beaudoin).

Sound Designer Malcolm Dow creates amusing sound effects that tightly integrate into both cast and stage set.

Directed by Scott Bellis, this fun, quirky production (imagine a Bard production with a vocal Venus Fly Trap!) can be enjoyed at Bard’s BMO Mainstage through September 26.

Photos by David Blue.


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