Take one pair of estranged twin brothers (both called Antipholus) and one pair of estranged twin servants (both called Dromio), keep them in ignorance of each other and throw them into a city with a reputation for sorcery and you have the chief ingredients for theatrical chaos. One Antipholus is given gold in the street and invited to dinner by a woman who thinks she's his wife; the other is barred from his own house and rebuffed by his jeweller. Caught in between, the Dromios are soundly beaten for disobeying each other's orders.
Basing his plot on a farce by Plautus, Shakespeare outdoes the mayhem of his Roman original to build up a hectic tale of violent cross-purposes, furious slapstick and social nightmare.
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