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No errors, just comedy in Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s show

4/20/2017 - West Side Leader
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By David Ritchey

Joe Pine and Diana Frankhauser share a scene in Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s “The Comedy of Errors.”
Photo: Scott Custer
DOWNTOWN AKRON — Mistaken identity and mistaken identity times two and slapstick, word play and physical comedy combine in Ohio Shakespeare Festival’s “The Comedy of Errors.” The show runs through April 30 at Greystone Hall.

William Shakespeare (1554-1616) wrote the play between 1589 and 1595. Keep in mind Shakespeare wrote for an all-male cast. The female characters in Shakespeare’s company were played by males and were expected to be able to play physical comedy. Nowadays, of course, female actors can bring their own physical comedy skills to the stage.

It’s into this upside down world that the Ohio Shakespeare Festival leads its audience.

The basic plot involves identical twin boys born to wealth. The parents of the boys buy two slaves, identical twins of the same age to grow up with their sons and to be their manservants. The family is divided by a storm and one parent, one child and one servant child are cast ashore on different islands. 

When the children have grown to be adults, they arrive in the same town at the same time.

The problems are multiplied because the identical twin brothers have the same name. Antipholus (Joe Pine) and Antipholus double (Michael Knobloch) look alike and are dressed alike. Their identical twin servants are Dromio (Ernie González) and Dromio double (Gordon Hinchen). Interestingly enough, the twin servants are dressed alike.

Chaos and comedy reign supreme.

Antipholus bought a gold chain from dealer Angelo (Mark Stoffer). The gold chain is delivered to the wrong Antipholus.

Antipholus arrives at his home (or is it the other Antipholus) and is locked out by his shrewish wife, Adriana (Josy Jones). Having two men who look alike and dress alike and have identical manservants who are dressed alike would be enough to make any wife shrewish.

González is a master of physical comedy and comedic timing. The audience waited for each of his entrances and the good times he brought to those in the theater.

Tess Burgler usually plays lovely, sympathetic female roles. She stretches in this production by playing Doctor Pinch and being costumed as a decrepit old man with facial hair. She makes this change in character type work.

Director Terry Burgler kept the production moving at a racetrack pace. Sometimes the pace was too fast and important, plot-advancing words got lost.

“The Comedy of Errors” is wild, madcap comedy. The physical comedy gives the audience a real treat.

For tickets, call 888-718-4253.


David Ritchey has a Ph.D. in communications and is a professor of communications at The University of Akron. He is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and the Cleveland Critics Circle.

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