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The Comedy of Errors

Published Wednesday 15 March 2006 at 13:20 by Robin Duke

We’ve beaten them at cricket but thanks to the Bell Shakespeare Company there is every chance that Australia is poised to swap the bat for the Bard in the victory stakes - at least if this first Shakespeare production in Britain by an Australian company is anything to go by.

Founder/director John Bell was named an Australian National Living Treasure seven years ago but that austere title belies the wonderfully unpretentious approach he has adopted in this joyous interpretation of Shakespeare’s earliest play.

Twenties jazz and magic tricks set the scene, Jennie Tate’s stage set is part bazaar part bizarre - an Indiana Jones Kasbah where pin striped suits, kiss me quick fezzes, belly dancers and the mysterious Dr Pinch mix and match.

While remaining faithful to the Elizabethan language in this unlikely tale of two sets of long separated identical twins and their search for each other, the pace is more like a farce - the cast even mercifully gabbles the less interesting speeches at breakneck speed - and the humour tackled with an eye on pantomime’s better moments.

Essentially an ensemble work, it is impossible to ignore Darren Gilshenan milking every moment as the meatier of the two Dromio boys with perfect comic timing.

If any teacher ever wondered how to interest their class in Shakespeare take note of the brothers’ rap here, the neatly executed choreographed movements and the brilliant use of the Bard at his bawdiest.

Sean O’Shea and Christopher Stollery as the Antipholi twins are confusingly similar in that rarest of achievements - a faultless production.

Production information

Grand Theatre, Blackpool, March 15-20, then touring

William Shakespeare
John Bell
Bell Shakespeare Company
Cast inclused:
Sean O'Shea, Ed Wightman, Darren Gilshenan, Blazey Best, Ross Skiffington
Running time:
1hr 40 mins

Production information displayed was believed correct at time of review. Information may change over the run of the show.

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Run sheet

King's Head, Islington London
January 24-February 15 2014