The St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival’s new Artistic Director Rona Waddington has come up with a creative, lively and wonderfully silly production of “Comedy of Errors.” With clever added music by Musical Director Melissa Morris and lyrics by Shakespeare and Miss Waddington, the play speeds by in a well-paced ninety minutes through all the twin confusion to it’s unlikely happy ending.
The music and Miss Waddington’s sometimes athletic staging take advantage of the multitalented cast. Aegon, well-played by Richard Sheridan Willis, sings his story of the twins while Colin Lepage and Alice Snaden dance the story in balletic pantomime. Mr. Willis shows up in Act II as the hilarious conjurer Pinch, who bursts into a rousing gospel number with robed choir back-up complete with tambourines.
Jonathan Purvis’s choreography is very good, especially the acrobatics, as is his fight direction. The timing on the slapping scene between Luciana, the appealing Shannon Currie and Adriana, played as a Latina fireball by the excellent Rose Napoli, is impeccable. (I’d like to mention everyone in the terrific cast, but time won’t permit it.
The set by Julie Bourbonnais is very colorful, with bright banners covering the upstage entrances, while brightly painted stepladders and flowers provide set pieces. Alex Amini’s late 1940s costumes are good and demand some nippy changes. She’s made the wise decision to put all the women in black character shoes, avoiding dealing with period foot gear and picky critics.
Director Waddington has come up with a multitude of clever twists. There’s a well-dressed and giddy barbershop quartet that opens Act II. Both sets of twins sing, “There’s Another Me Out There.” At one point Jamie Cavanagh as the happily philandering Antipholus of Ephesus tells his story while Jesse Griffiths as the very limber Dromio of Ephesus silently acts it out. I don’t want to give away any more surprises, (and there are many), but have to mention Pierre Brault’s gleeful response to the upcoming hanging – I hooted!
This production is an auspicious beginning for Rona Waddington’s tenure. Comedy of Errors is playful, tuneful, and just plain fun. It’s worth going if only to hear and see the eight-member Mafioso ukulele band in their black trench coats and dark glasses!
“Comedy of Errors” at St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott tkts: 613-925-5788
Runs in rep with “Romeo and Juliet” through August 22