by Winona Post Editor-in-chief Sarah Squires
I thought I’d save the best for last, and I may well have been correct. I missed a week of our beloved Great River Shakespeare Festival while I was out of state (I’ll save that story for next time), and when I returned I was raring to take my seat at “The Comedy of Errors.”
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, “Comedy” is about two sets of twins — the Dromios and the Antipholuses. The Dromio boys were twins purchased as slaves to serve the twin Antipholuses. After a shipwreck separates the pairs — one Dromio and Antipholus off to Ephesus, another Dromio and Antipholus off to Syracuse — the four grow up. (This is complicated by the fact that one set of separated twins took on the names of their older brothers, thus the identical characters also answer to the same names, but that’s comedy for you!) The Syracuse pair end up in Ephesus, and what follows is a mad series of mistaken identities.
“The Comedy of Errors,” once you have that basic plot down, is not a complicated Shakespearean play to follow. You’ve got Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, who cannot for the life of her understand why her husband (the Syracuse Antipholus) doesn’t recognize her and refuses to come home for dinner. Played with absolute comic perfection by Stephanie Lambourn, Adriana laments her husband’s folly, she postures (in heels, no less), she schemes. Her sister, Luciana, played by Katie LeSuer (I met your folks at the show Katie!), provides a perfect foil; and, Katie even has a special dance routine in store for the end that you won’t want to miss.
The two Antipholuses, played by Andrew Carlson and Christopher Peltier, are beyond bewildered at their exchanged identities — they’re jailed, chased, romantically pursued, left out in the cold, and otherwise disoriented in this fast-paced roil. Most confusing is the behavior of their Dromios — who switch back and forth between Caroline Amos and Tarah Flanagan — also utterly baffled at the changing behavior of their twin masters.
Amos and Flanagan are by far the most entertaining among the characters — dressed as cap-tossing clowns, they are the butt of every joke, and each time they colorfully take the stage is a delight. Flanagan’s Dromios finds himself the love interest of Nell, a kitchen maid, played by our favorite Chris Mixon, and the results are still causing me aching stomach muscles from deep belly laughter.
I knew I was in for a treat, after hearing so many good things about “The Comedy of Errors” as I made my way through the season. But even I was taken by surprise. I found myself, more than a few times, throwing my head back and laughing at the theater ceiling, tears welled up in the corners of my eyes. This is not a show that should be missed!
We are nearly at the end of our dear festival, but there are a few more chances to see “The Comedy of Errors” and the rest of the productions for the season. Another performance of “An Illiad” was also added because of such high demand for the amazing performance (visit winonapost.com to see more reviews of this year’s GRSF shows). You can see “An Illiad” during a special matinee on Thursday, July 27, at 2 p.m.
What a marvelous season. Many thanks go to all of the special people who work so hard to bring all this magic to Winona.