This is going to be one of those gushingly enthusiastic reviews, be warned.
When you see an absolutely pitch perfect, drop-dead wonderful production of Shakespeare, with not one foot put wrong at any level, what else can you do but gush ? Other than advise anyone in London who hasn’t yet seen “The Comedy of Errors” at the National Theatre to hurry up and go see it.
It is, quite simply, outstanding.
Lenny Henry as Antipholus of Syracuse is the big ticket draw, but there isn’t one single member of this multi-racial cast that is anything less than perfectly cast.
Basically, the plot is the story of twin boys with twin servants, who get separated shortly after birth, during a violent storm at sea. Separated from their siblings as well as their mother, one noble and one servant grows up adopted by fishermen, whilst the other 2 grow up with the father. This latter pair sets out to try and locate their mother and missing brother(s).
All of this is the framework on which to hang a classic comic tale of mistaken identities, confused love interest, slapstick comedy, double-entendres and all this interspersed with lots of gags and risqué jokes, and just a hint of impending tragedy – until it all comes right, just in time, with a big happy ending.
A big happy ending that certainly had me in tears.
First performed at Christmas 1594, you have to hand it to Shakespeare that over 400 years later, a packed house was roaring with laughter at his jokes and I know I wasn’t the only one who shed a tear at the long-lost re-uniting of Egeon and Emilia right at the end.
The play is set in an edgy modern world of graffiti-ed walls, red-light areas, and billiard dens. The men are definitely dudes, and the 2 main female characters, Adriana and her sister Luciana are Essex WAGS – all dyed blond hair, killer heels, designer bags and short short skirts. And as for those accents…
The set is brilliant, with the opening shipwreck scene frankly frightening in its noise and intensity.
Favourite moments ?
The lift in the apartment block where the WAGS live – childish, I know, but a lift, and a working intercom – Shakespeare would have loved it.
A police car roaring onto the stage.
Glimpses of rooms where hookers are at work – when the upstairs room S & M session is over, the girl gets on with her knitting.
It is hilarious, fabulously slick and well-produced, and you leave the theatre happy an laughing and marvelling at the freshness of Shakespeare’s dialogue.
Every single member of the cast is perfect, and absolutely perfectly cast, so it is hardly fair to single out one for special praise, but I will. Michelle Terry as Luciana is superb.