Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: The Comedy of Errors, London Roundhouse

Review: The Comedy of Errors, London Roundhouse

Published in Time Out, 18.06.2012

With two sets of twins unwittingly chasing each others’ tails, the biggest hurdle for a director of The Comedy of Errors is making its confusion of identities convincing. Palestinian director Amir Nizar Zuabi’s production leaps that hurdle better than any I’ve seen, driving the play with a blind panic that makes headless chickens of its central characters.

This Ephesus is a corrupt police state, also patrolled by a zealous cult of religious vigilantes led by Jonathan Slinger’s sadistic Dr Pinch. Waterboarding looks like the national sport. Industrial electrodes and scorched crotches are routine. So it’s no surprise that Antipholus of Syracuse (Jonathan McGuinness) and his servant Dromio, who arrive in Ephesus illegally, immediately start running for their lives. This is no light-hearted Benny Hill chase, but farce, frazzled, panting and adrenal.

Zuabi is blessed with some of the most interesting RSC casting in yonks. His Dromios in particular – Bruce Mackinnon and Felix Hayes – are wonderful hollow-headed clowns, both stupidly sympathetic. As they confuse their shiny-suited masters, the play morphs into ‘Two Men, Two Guvnors’. Kirsty Bushell’s batty confused wife, Adrianna, and her husband, Stephen Hagan’s slick Antipholus of Ephesus, are just as joyous.

Individuality is prized over technique and pacey pandemonium leaves loose ends. However, this is so turbo charged and hysterical that you can happily sacrifice some of that RSC nuanced polish.

Photograph: Jillian Edelstein

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