Another of Shakespeare’s comedies of mistaken identity dons the Festival Stage in Balboa Park with the jazzy staging of Shakespeare’s ‘The Comedy of Errors’ now playing through Sept. 20th.
It’s the second of the outdoor productions this summer on the Lowell Davies Festival Stage and the second concerning twins and mistaken identity.
Both ‘Comedy’ and just recently ‘Twelfth Night’ share the same theme; identical twins washed ashore as a result of some storm, shipwreck or other sea bearing mishap.
Each one involves turmoil; deer in the headlight madness that follows, as the ‘left twin’ has no idea that there is a ‘right twin’ or what the ‘right twin’ is up to.
Adding to the confusion, in this case, each twin has an identical twin servant. What separates the double twin circus is the jazzy nature of ‘Comedy of Errors’.
Broadway veteran Scott Ellis directs the production with deftness and agility. His concept to set the action of the play in the jazz capital of the world, New Orleans, circa 1920’s proved to be a winning idea. The opening night audience loved it.
The merchant Egeon (Patrick Kerr) is looking for his lost sons and their Dromio’s. Both sets of twins were born on the same day.
Egeon and his wife took the Dromio’s in and dressed them alike. When a shipwreck separated the families, one set of twins landed in Syracuse the other in Ephesus.
The story picks up when the now grown Antipholus (Glenn Howerton) of Syracuse and his servant Dromio (Rory O’Malley) of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus. The residents there are thoroughly confused by the look a like pair they think are their townsfolk.
One of the many things separating the twins is the recent marriage of the Ephesus Antipholus to the spirited Adriana (Megan Dodds) who can’t understand why her new husband Antipholus of Ephesus hasn’t a clue as to who she is.
More seriously though is when the same guy falls for her sister, the beautiful Luciana (Barrett Doss).
There are other bizarre things going on here to distract the best of us, but farce is farce and as with all farces, this one too must play out to its rightful conclusion.
The one element that saves this 90-minute plus production from itself is the Jazz; all that Jazz; Dixieland included.
Headed by Derek Cannon and his smooth sounding trumpet with Chaz Cabrera and Jordan Morita, the musicians and the sounds coming from their instruments are catchy, knee tapping and so much fun.
Director Ellis in his infinite wisdom uses the same actors to play each other and the ‘other’. The Jazz interludes act as a time holder for the actors to run off stage as one twin and come back as the other.
The talented ensemble members look like they just came from Mardi Grase. They dance, sing and play instruments. Some follow on drums, piano, tuba, and tambourine along with an assortment of others dressed to the Roaring 20’s nines in Linda Cho’s fabulous costumes that are dazzling.
The music is also a great set up for Garth Schilling (Courtesan and family friend) in drag stretching out ‘I Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl’ that pretty much sets the stage for another rowdy march, some witchcraft and a bit of Voodoo.
Not to leave anyone out of the big picture there is Austin Durant as the magician Doctor Pinch. Deborah Taylor who shows up at the near end of the tale is Emilia the twins’ mother disguised as The Mother Abbess.
Alexander Dodge, who was responsible for the set of ‘Kiss Me Kate’ just seen indoors as part of the summer series and ‘Hunchback’ at The La Jolla Playhouse last year, and New Orleans vision is another indication why San Diego should have him back every year.
Lighting designer Philip S. Rosenberg (also ‘Kiss Me Kate’) puts the finishing touches on an already highly visible and colorful production.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Sept. 20th
Organization: The Old Globe Theatre
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park
Ticket Prices: Start at $29.00
Venue: Lowell Davies Festival Stage