After the blood and revenge-taking of this year's Edges of Rome season it is a relief to find a funny The Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare's Globe.
Often in the past the play was shortened and played as a double bill with Titus Andronicus and here we find most of the same cast members from Titus allowed to lighten up and further display their excellent ensemble playing.
The entertainment is based on two sets of mistaken identity, twin brothers parted at birth. The stars of the evening are the uncannily alike brothers Andropholus, Andrew Paddon and Simon Wilson, and their twin servants Dromio, played by Sam Alexander and Eliot Giularocca – who set the mood and pace for the ensuing confusion. Instead of an exploration of what it might mean to be a twin, they are deemed mad, drunk or bewitched, or all three simultaneously.
The slapstick is accompanied by an array of percussive effects, directed by Phil Hopkins, and a modern sounding brass ensemble.
Sarah Woodward plays Adriana, the confused wife of the son of Epheseus with gusto and melodrama. There is a fine display of simultaneous gestures, stillness, sidelong looks and knowing asides. The tension mounts and an incongruous Abbess (in 4th century Ephesus) turns out to hold the key to it all.
The director, Christopher Luscombe, has resisted the temptation to modernise the setting of the play and it is firmly in the early tradition of Jacobean staging. Not quite the Feast of Fools presided over by the Lord of Misrule yet but if everyone can relax a bit it should ensure everyone leaves laughing.
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