“The Comedy of Errors”
Hartford Stage’s current staging of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” is an entirely delightful and buoyant new production. Taking a leaf from films from the 1960s, such as “Never on Sunday” and “Zorba the Greek,” director Darko Tresnjak has created a frothy concoction that is sure to leave a big smile on your face. One of the director’s novel ideas in staging “The Comedy of Errors” is to add music and dance to the show, which only serves to enrich Shakespeare’s play. So, come for some non-stop fun at Hartford Stage to see its luscious new production of “The Comedy of Errors.”
When the audience enters the theatre, it is immediately faced with a colorful and entirely delectable set (also designed by Tresnjak) that lends a festive air to the show before it has even begun. As it turns out, the plot of “The Comedy of Errors,” which includes scenes involving mistaken identity and numerous other surprises and complications, is entirely ripe to have music and dance added to it. (It should be noted that “The Comedy of Errors” has been adapted twice into a musical: as Rodgers and Hart’s classic “The Boys from Syracuse” and, in the 1980s, as “Oh, Brother!”) Still, there is a great deal of freshness in director Tresnjak’s take on Shakespeare’s comedy and the results are pretty infectious.
The twenty-two member cast of “The Comedy of Errors” at Hartford Stage is quite large and just about everyone in the show is seen to good advantage, particularly the leads. Portraying two sets of twins who were separated as infants and, as adults, are now trying to be reunited, the four actors playing these roles are pretty great. As Antipholus of Ephesus, Ryan-James Hatanaka is terrific and he is matched by the fine Tyler Lansing Weaks as Antipholus of Syracuse, his long-lost brother. Similarly, the two Dromio brothers in the show, the grand Alan Schmuckler and the hilarious Matthew Macca, are a pretty perfect pair and add a great deal of humor to the play.
And, speaking of humor, a number of the women in “The Comedy of Errors” also shine. At the very start of the show, the sinuous Paula Leggett Chase, playing a courtesan, enters in a flowing red dress and expertly sings the title song from “Never on Sunday.” This opening scene immediately sets the tone for the show, that it is, indeed, going to be an irreverent good time. Also standing out are Jolly Abraham, as Adriana, a spicy, shrewish wife, and her sister Luciana, played by the amusing Mahira Kakkar. Still, if there is a real scene-stealer in the show, it is the glorious Tara Heal, decked out in a fat suit and constantly doing flips, as she pursues the various men in the play.
As mentioned, Darko Tresnjak’s production sparkles, with the director’s gorgeous set complemented by the fabulous costumes designed by Fabio Toblini and the equally inviting lighting design by Matthew Richards. Peggy Hickey’s choreography adds to the mirth, especially in a particularly outrageous lip-synching sequence that nearly stops the show. Truth be told, this production of “The Comedy of Errors” almost looks good enough to eat.
Hartford Stage’s “The Comedy of Errors” is a real lark and runs a fleet, intermission-less ninety minutes. During that time, director Darko Tresnjak fills the show with an endless amount of delicious moments and scenes that seem almost heaven-sent. So, if you are looking for a suitably exotic and atmospheric evening at the theatre, I doubt that you could do better than to enter the world of Hartford Stage’s sumptuous “The Comedy of Errors.”
Performances of “The Comedy of Errors” continue at Hartford Stage in Hartford, CT through February 12, 2017. For tickets, please visit www.hartfordstage.org or call the box office at 860-527-5151.
Photo: (L-R): Alan Schmuckler, Tara Heal, and Tyler Lansing Weaks
Photo by T. Charles Erickson