Wednesday 3rd to Saturday 6th December 2003 

Friargate Theatre

Charles Hutchinson in the The Yorkshire Evening Press wrote:

‘TIS the season to be merry, and this is a merry party of a performance of Shakespeare’s shortest play and first comedy, his 1592 hit The Comedy Of Errors.

For the York Shakespeare Project’s third community production en route to completing all 37 Shakespeare plays, director Chris Rawson and designer Ali Borthwick have transferred this meddling tale of mistaken identities from the Mediterranean to a Victorian mill town in northern England.

As a map helpfully demonstrates, Syracuse has become Lancashire; Ephesus is now Yorkshire, with the white rose symbol prominently displayed. The story of how twin brothers, both named Antipholus, and twin attendants, each by the name of Dromio, become entangled in farcical confusion now has the scent of a war of the roses for added local impact.

The tongue is most definitely nudging into the cheek in Rawson’s reinvention: two of the four clocks on display are modern (and one whichfalls off the wall, is caught as it drops and put back nonchalantly as if that sort of thing happens every day in this mad world).

A 21st century wheelie bin has its place on the stage, too, this property of the City of Ephesus Council environmental services department providing a convenient hiding place.

Ali Borthwick keeps her design initially under red wraps then reveals a red-brick design that owes not a little to the broad brush strokes of pantomime and plenty to French farce with its multitude of doors. Indeed, the design is an amusing character in itself, with its flaps for quick entry and exit of props and a window of opportunity for a head to suddenly pop out. At one point, a doorway pulls out from the wall, like one of those hidden beds, to provide another chance for confusion between the ever dutiful, but bewildered, Dromios.

The acting is vigorous but erratic and uneven, plenty of it over the top, some of it over the next top too. Not least by the crowded chorus whose members appear to be competing for the Most Inappropriate Over-reaction prize, an award usually reserved for Argentina’s footballers. Basic rule: support-play hamming is distracting.

Honourable mentions, however, should go to Tim Holman, revelling in his leap from lordly roles to the comic swamps of Dromio of Syracuse; Jamie Searle as his Dromio counterpart; Dermot Hill’s purposeful Antipholus of Syracuse; and Raymond Baggaley’s goldsmith Angelo, whose dogtooth jacket is as loud and brash as the comic playing.


See also: The British Theatre Guide review by Peter Lathan.

 


 

Cast

Egeon, a merchant of Syracuse Robin Sanger
Solinus, Duke of Ephesus Alan Reed
Antipholus of Syracuse) – Twin brothers, sons of Dermot Hill
Antipholus of Ephesus )    Egeon and Emilia John Ford
Dromio of Syracuse) – Twins attendant on the two Tim Holman
Dromio of Ephesus )    Antipholuses Jamie Searle
Adriana, wife to Antipholus of Ephesus Mandy Newby
Luciana, sister to Adriana Kate Evans
Emilia, Egeon’s wife and an Abbess at Ephesus Judith Ireland
A Courtesan Helen Mitchell
First Merchant Richard Stell
Second Merchant David Hartshorn
Angelo, a goldsmith Raymond Baggaley
Balthasar, a merchant Ian Bithell
Dr Pinch, a conjuror Frank Brogan
Luce, Adriana’s servant Liz Warren
Messenger Sukie Chapman
Officer Gary Firth
Jailer/Headsman Alan Lyons
Ephesians Meg Anderson, Caroline Leach, Louise Moody, Val Parker, Christine West, Gillian Bayes, John Hassellgreen

 

Production and Backstage

Director Chris Rawson
Stage Manager/Designer Ali Borthwick
Production Manager Lee Maloney
Assistant Production Manager Mel Boast
Production Gillian Bayes, Kit Bird, Malcolm Law,
Barbara Miller, John Sharpe, Paul Toy
Publicity Alan Lyons
Props Julia Atkinson
Lighting Cy Dudley
Sound Alex Ball
Costume Ali Borthwick, Lindsey Foxcroft,
Meg Anderson
Programme Alan Lyons
Front of House Anne Walker, Paul Toy, Barbara Miller
and members of the YSP