Shakespeare, the Golden Age of Cinema Collide Around the ‘Comedy of Errors’


The nostalgia you’d expect from a rendition of “The Comedy of Errors,” one of Shakespeare’s lightest and most farcical plays, is usually not what you’d expect.

But this Chicago Shakespeare show isn’t really a “comedy of errors.”

I don’t mean it in a snobbish or purist sense.I mean it in a very real sense. This whole evening is about the play out of the play (rather than the play within the play). Moreover, perhaps watching this show is about events other than the playing of this play, and as mentioned above, it’s not really a “comedy of errors”.

Please let me explain.

This was as Artistic Director of Barbara Gaines, who has established herself as a leading institution with a regional Tony Award winner and spectacular multi-theater space on Navy Pier from her days of founding and performing Chicago Shakespeare in pubs. is the last work of

“Comedy of Errors”

Because of her farewell, Gaines chose to rerun the production from 2008 with many of her favorite collaborators. They could actually make more of it.

And the production includes an entirely different script, written and now rewritten by Second City veteran Ron West. The idea was that a group of actors who had worked together on popular pirate films would join the war effort by coming together in 1940 in England during the Nazi blitzkrieg to make the film “The Comedy of the Errors.” that it contributed. The country needs entertainment.

This goes far beyond the relatively common practice of composing Shakespearean plays in simple setups. Playing outside of West’s play becomes the main attraction. Even with a near-complete story, “The Comedy of Errors” feels more sampled than completely finished, but in the end two sets of twins hit the stage at the same time and the play continues. The ending, which discovers the cause of all the comic confusion in .

All in all, to see top-notch actors Ross Lehman and Kevin Goodall jokingly clash as the film’s director and ego-maniacal classic theater person, both named Dromio, respectively. Much more interesting than watching it as two twin servants. including trying and Lehman’s resistance to it. It may not be funny. It’s funny.

Given the sheer amount of shenanigans, the sophistication of this piece is undoubtedly impressive. Intricate, generous where appropriate, and never intrusive.

And the supporting characters have their own moments. As the director’s unfaithful actress wife, Susan Moniz delivers a compelling hitman’s eye. As a dashing lead man with a heart murmur, Robert Petkoff tells us what happens when an actor forgets his phobia. And Dan Chameloy, as a star singer with an alcohol problem, shows how to smash the iambic pentameter before demonstrating the opposite.

Will West’s extensive script here make for a complete entree?

it’s not. There is a genre that blends the off-stage and on-stage lives of actors. Think of Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off,” or, in Shakespearean parlance, Cole Porter’s “Kiss Me Kate.” But West’s take on this never quite reaches that level. It’s fun but incomplete, neither entirely satisfying on its own, nor able to enliven Shakespeare’s scenes with additional insight or inflection.

However, this is a love letter to the theater world, and there is no doubt why Gaines chose this work.

After all, this (not) production of “The Comedy of Errors” feels like going into a festive farewell tribute and eating flavorful appetizers for nearly three hours.

You won’t find it a fine meal, and the old friends who host it repeat stories they’ve told before, but it sure is a good time and leaves a friendly, warm fuzzy.


What do you think?

Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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