Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Comedy of Errors, Ohio Shakespeare Festival

(Matched sets of twins: from left, Benjamin Fortin, Bernard Bygott, Ryan C. Zarecki and Geoff Knox)

No playwright has ever been as fond of mistaken identities as Shakespeare, with all his damsels dressed in drag to fool all and sundry. And in this play he takes that passion to the ultimate, as two twin brothers and their twin servants bounce around in the service of one of Will’s most adored comical romps.

As always, the OSF troupe handles their business with precision and teeth-rattling enunciation, making all of the language marvelously accessible.

Even though the players are encouraged by director Terry Burgler to chew every visible piece of scenery, along with some of the flora and fauna that surround them in this gorgeous outdoor setting, the broad characterizations mostly add to the raucous fun. 

Standouts in the talented cast include Bernard Bygott and Benjamin Fortin as master and servant, times two. Bygott has the surly sort of good looks that wear well in his guises of both Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse (also played at times by Ryan C. Zarecki). But his extreme mugging later on, as he’s wrenched back and forth by multiple misidentifications, almost upsets the over-acting applecart.

Fortin’s dual Dromios (and an occasional appearance by his Dromio of Syracuse double Geoff Knox) find all the laughs inherent in this wacky plot, shuddering in fear since it seems anyone within arm’s length is ready to take a swipe at this pair of cowering yet conniving servants.

Lara Knox as Adriana seethes with such fury it’s amazing the nearby trees don’t burst into flames, and Tess Burgler has some fun as her sis Luciana.

Alfred Anderson, as he has for the past eight seasons, lends his gorgeous stentorian tones to the proceedings—this time as the Duke of Ephesus—while Henry C. Bishop adds some extracurricular laughs as the conjurer Pinch.

Mark Stoffer as the goldsmith Angelo seems a bit stunned by the histrionics going on around him and doesn’t furnish the added layer of chuckles that this character can often provide.

Summer is short, but that’s no reason not to hie yourself to Akron for this always entertaining Shakepearian treat, served alfresco and with inordinate relish by the talented OSF team.

The Comedy of Errors
Through July 21, produced by the Ohio Shakespeare Festival at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, 714 N. Portage Path, Akron, 330-673-8761.

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