Monkeys are smart. Though they haven't created cars or trains or weapon, they are educated through simplicity. They flourish on what they have, and if something doesn't work, they don't give up, but they evolve to overcome it. Like monkeys, Shakespeare had no thesaurus, no dictionary, no laptop and no editor. But when he came to a spot where he was at loss for words, he made up his own words. Through practice, perseverance and certainly trial and error, he created works that will last forever.

I am a 13 year old kid who is trying to read and attend live performances of all 37 Shakespeare plays (plus 3 possible collaborations) in 2 years. This is a record of my experiences.

I am now a 19 year old college freshmen at Northwestern University, pursuing a degree in Theatre. The spark of love for Shakespeare that began this blog has grown into a roaring fire. That fire burns a little bit brighter each day. This is where it all began.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Comedy of Errors, Open Air Theatre, London, July 31

This is a madcap production of a madcap play, and deserves a madcap review! 

             Regents Park Theatre, London, bears a striking resemblance to Shakespeare in the Park. It's outdoors, in a kind of stadium. The only thing that is really different is the stage. Instead of a circle, a thick rectangular platform serves as the set. There is a thin catwalk along the back. The atmosphere it perfect for a play because it was so neutral, in the park away from the city, making it possible to change it to anything.

             Comedy of Errors is not a tough play to get your head around. It is simple comedy with little variation in emotional levels. Therefore to make it interesting, you must do something special. This production was sort of like a cartoon. It was done in 40's Casablanca! It was the most unorthodox version of a Shakespeare play I have ever seen. There was a billboard of a sunset and a man watching across the back which read “Ephesus Welcomes You”. There was also a smooth lounge band. The women wore a lot of makeup and lipstick. The men wore square rimmed sunglasses and blazers. The Dromios looked like Turkish slaves. As servants, their parts were the only non-nobility based character roles, so their costumes worked well. There were musical numbers and quirky sound effects. The maid was French and spoke with a heavy and hilarious accent.  The fact that it was done in such an anti-cliche way allowed actors to really go all out. The guidelines of the text were less imminent.

               The twins were very funny. Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse played a mis-match game with their twins from Ephesus. Antipholus of Syracuse was hilarious with his Dromio. The two were extremely comical in their ways. They looked and like they were honestly servant and master. And they had this thing where Dromio S. would poke Antipholus S. and then back and forth until they both fell over laughing. Dromio of Ephesus was very funny with his mistress and avoiding getting beaten. He cleverly avoided her blows by confusing her with gentle sarcasm. Antipholus of Ephesus was very strong, burly, and angry. He seemed to actually hate his wife. Not in a violent way, but in a begrudgingly.
              The sisters were a powerful 1-2 punch. Adrianna was so funny in her rebuke of Antipholus S., mistaking him for her husband, that the audience was literally crying. She was so mock passionate, so loving that she wrapped herself around his leg. He, in the meantime, had no idea what was going on. Dromio looked on in horror, and Luciana laughed  heartily. Luciana was very funny in her semi pursuit of Antipholus S. she liked him, but was ignorant of the fact that he was her sister’s husband. She seemed sweet and innocent seeming. Also the minor characters played a huge part. They were very strong all together. Angelo and his merchants were comical, swearing, and unswearing about the necklace. Egeon was played by the Herald from Branagh's Henry V. He was a picture perfect ex-noble, brought to seemingly the end of his rope.  Emilia was also very endearing in her way of making things right.


  1. I couldn't agree more.

    One of things that made it so funny and exciting from the first minute until the end was the love for detail in this production. The stage setting was static and since it was an open air production, there were not many lighting effect. And yet one got the impression that the company made the most of every situation: Adrianna wrapping herself around her supposed husband's leg; Antipholous bending back when having to hand over the chain etc.etc. Some might say they were trying to hard - but it did the trick for me.

    The fact that the play was set in Casablanca in the 1930s/40s and full of reminiscence of the movie (Cafe Amerciain) was a stroke of genius. It subtly reminded the audience that although they were watching a comedy, the events that led to the separation of the family are actually quite tragic (Ephesus vs Syracruse; Germany vs Allies).

    I had the bestest time!

  2. Thanks a lot and I completely agree! It's impressive that they were able to keep to the script while seemingly ad-libbing.

  3. I was there, too, and like Mareike and Shakespearean Monkey's comments. The combination of fabulous attention to detail, and yet a free-flowing, almost improv comedy style, was impressive.

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