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Shakespeare in the Park: The Comedy of Errors

Carol Flavell Neist

SHAKESPEARE WA: One of erth’s best-loved summer entertainment events, Shakespeare in the Park is putting on three plays in 2012, including this ever-so-slightly re-written Comedy of Errors.
Shakespeare in the Park: The Comedy of Errors
Shakespeare in the Park is one of Perth’s best-loved summer entertainment events, and this year the ensemble has taken the bold step of extending the season to four weeks and undertaking three plays instead of the usual one! The Comedy of Errors is up for eleven performances, The Tempest for seven and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) – the screamingly funny send-up written by Adam Long, Daniel Singer and Jess Winfield – for five.

Like the Bell Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare WA does not fear mucking about with the plays! We had Sean Walsh, for example, playing Dromio of Melbourne rather than Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors. He and his master were in trouble for being in Fremantle instead of Ephesus, so many lines were altered and all the changes brought laughs from the knowledgeable first-night audience. I certainly didn’t hear anyone complain, and suspect Shakespeare wouldn’t have, either.

The Comedy of Errors was well-costumed from start to finish. The zany mirror-twin outfits of the Antipholuses (Antipholod?) were delightful, as were the Scots kilts of the red-haired Dromios. How we came to have Scotsmen waiting on a pair of Greeks I have no idea, but the idea worked very well and was vastly entertaining throughout.

Sam Longley and Sean Walsh, besides being brilliant in Complete Works, showed up to advantage in other works, too. Longley – who has the physiology that goes with the name – shone as both Solinus and Dr Pinch. Welsh by birth and Aussie by domicile, Claire Munday used her gift for accents by playing one of her three roles in Comedy as a Yorkshire lass.

The company is blessed with comedians, such as Paul Montague, who was a hoot as Dromio of Fremantle. Several actors were also worthy of note for their versatility, including Georgia King, as Miranda in Tempest and Luciana here, demonstrating enviable voice projection in unpredictably gusty weather.

Shareena Clanton gave us a competent Adriana, while Andy King played his doubled roles as Egeon and the Officer with a light, intimate touch. He is another actor with excellent vocal projection, as is Stephen Lee, who more-than-creditably played Angelo. And Cameron Clark gave us, among other smaller parts, a very funny drag queen cameo. His insubstantial bosom bore the biggest pasties in the world, contrasting with a codpiece that almost matched the boob ornaments in size if not gender. It’s almost worth seeing the show for this scene alone.

Nick Maclaine, as Antipholus of Fremantle, showed a delightful naïve charm that may well keep him tied to juvenile parts for some time, even though he is capable of meatier roles, as he demonstrated in the recent production of Blood Brothers at the Metcalfe. Will O’Mahony was convincing as the Melbourne Antipholus, a wordy role that requires great concentration. He and McLaine were sufficiently alike to be a convincing pair of twins.

So not just one night’s great entertainment, but three! To be sure of seeing all three shows, best book your season ticket straight away. Remember there are fewer performances of The Tempest and Complete Works than of The Comedy of Errors. Go early to get a good spot, take your own seats and picnic, and if the temperature is expected to drop below 20, take warm clothes. Once the sun’s gone down, the wind can whistle through the park and chill you to the core. But while the wonderful entertainment of Shakespeare in the Park may not warm your bones, it will certainly warm your spirit!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Shakespeare WA presents
Shakespeare in the Park 2012
The Comedy of Errors
Director: Paige Newmark
Set and Lighting Design: Jake Newby
Costume Design: Ingrid Proos, Cherie Hewson
Fight Director: Andy Fraser
Choreography: Jessica Waters
Sound: Hugh Jennings
Stage Manager: Craig Williams

Cast includes: Cameron Clark, Shareena Clanton, Andy King, Georgia King, Stephen Lee, Damon Lockwood, Sam Longley, Nick Maclaine, Paul Montague, Claire Munday, Will Mahony, Trevor Ryan, Sean Walsh, James Webb, Jimmy Webb, Terrence Webb

Botanic Gardens, Kings Park, Perth
January 6th–February 4th 2012
Bookings and Information:

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Carol Flavell Neist has written reviews and feature articles for The Australian, The West Australian, Dance Australia, Music Maker, ArtsWest and Scoop. She was reviews editor for the now defunct Specusphere magazine and, writing as Satima Flavell, has also published poetry and fantasy fiction.