Pros: A hilarious show, full of perfectly executed physical and visual comedy.
Cons: Some key plot elements are lost in the language.
Coming in from the street, I immediately find myself in a buzzing hive of creativity. An excited audience wait to be let into the theatre whilst Chickenshed’s workshop participants mill around in the bar and cafe areas. The show is presented in the small intimate Studio Theatre, and we are seated in the round, increasing the level of intimacy. As I enter the studio and head towards my seat, I am immediately swept up in a protest. Cast members walk around with placards and petitions, engaging one-on-one with the audience, coming into the seats to have a chat, setting the scene for a fun and imaginative production.
Inclusive theatre company Chickenshed have pulled off a lively and colourful adaptation of Shakespeare’s farcical comedy, The Comedy of Errors. It’s a tale of mistaken identity that follows twin boys who were separated from each other during a terrible storm many years ago. To complicate matters further, at the time of separation both boys were in possession of an identical twin slave – resulting in two identical pairs of identical twins growing up apart. Years later, both sets of twins just happen to be in the same city on the same day, leading to a series of hilarious meetings.
This production is a real treat with well executed visual comedy throughout. The two slaves, the Dromios, give an excellent performance as the clowns of the show, constantly delivering moments of delightfully precise physical comedy. Their Masters, the Antipholous twins, are equally enjoyable to watch and the comic relationship between each pair of twins (and each configuration of each pair) is thoroughly entertaining.
The show is well paced with laughs from beginning to end. Seated in the round, I could see the pure enjoyment being had by my fellow audience members. As the piece reached its hilarious climax it was wonderful to see the whole audience giggling away.
The set is minimal and props are used sparingly and effectively throughout. Costumes are also simple but effective, with identical twins in identical outfits and other cast members adopting various items of costume as they shift between roles. Visually, the piece is bold and colourful.
At times the physical comedy outshone the script and in places I found myself missing a few key details, though this may have been down to the Shakespearean language. At the end of the show I overheard an audience member state “I usually hate Shakespeare”, I must admit that I usually do too!
Leaving the venue, I was swept up in a cheerful crowd, all going out with smiles on their faces. This is a thoroughly entertaining show and one that even the biggest Shakespeare hater will enjoy.
Author: William Shakespeare
Director: Jelena Budimir
Booking Until: 16 May 2015
Box Office: 020 8292 9222
Booking Link: http://www.chickenshed.org.uk/comedy-errors