By Robert W. Bethune
You don’t take “The Comedy of Errors” seriously. It isn’t about anything. It’s entertaining proof that the greatest of dramatists put out fluff. The pedants may have dug into this play and found all sorts of deep stuff in it, but that proves more about the pedants than it does about the play.
They’ve put in everything: silly, scantily dressed women; big silly well-meaning servants and their silly, remarkably stupid masters; crazy confusions and amusing misunderstandings; a Greek chorus; vaudeville, standup, straight-man-funny-man, pratfalls, crotch jokes, door chases and everything else, including a camel, a penguin, boys and girls in love and parents finding long-lost children.
Oops! Nobody got a pie in the face. I don’t understand how that got left out.
This everything-and-the-kitchen-sink riot must at least partly be because Richard Monette, the director and Festival artistic director, is retiring. This is his swan song, so turn it loose! And why not? The result is certainly a lot of fun.
It’s farce, but not frantic farce. The pacing is leisurely for this kind of play. I liked that; farce can be so frantic that it wears you out. Occasionally it just plain got a little bit slow.
It’s extremely colorful. The designers in all areas have pulled out and used every swatch in the book. One’s eyes never stop feasting on the riot of color. There are lots of fun effects too: a headdress that lights up, signs that light up, lots of flash and glitter in the costumes.
‘The Comedy of Errors’
Stratford Festival of Canada at the Avon Theatre. In repertory, Tues.-Sun., through Oct. 26. Tickets: $40-$108 Canadian. For information: 800-567-1600 or http://www.stratfordfestival.ca.