Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Comedy of Errors"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Larry Stark


"Comedy of Errors"

by William Shakespeare
Directed by Spiro Veloudos
Original Music by Steven Bergman

Assistant Director Neil Casey
Scenic Design by Janie F. Howland
Lighting Design by Christopher Ostrom
Action Choreography by Company Scaramouche
Costume Design by Anthony Powell
Title Slides by Kristen Palson
Stage Manager Susan Putnam
Assistant Stage Managers Catherine Kemp & Spencer Everett Jawitz

Solinus, Duke of Ephesus..........................Richard LaFrance
Egeon, Merchant of Syracuse/ Doctor Pinch....Robert Saoud
Antipholus of Syracuse.......................................Bill Mootos
Antipholus of Ephesus.........................................John Kuntz
Dromio of Syracuse.......................................Peter A. Carey
Dromio of Ephesus..........................................Ilyse Robbins
Angelo, a Goldsmith..................................Clifford M. Allen
Balthasar, a Merchant...................................Geoffrey Burns
Adriana, wife to Antipholus of Ephesus.......Linda Amendola
Luciana, her sister..........................................Andrea Walker
Courtesan/Luce, a servant..........................Jennifer Valentine
Emilia, Abbess of Ephesus, Egeon's Wife............Beth Gotha


The amazing thing about this "Comedy of Errors" is that no one breaks character --- not Shakespeare's farcical knockabouts, but the characters director Spiro Veloudos has playing those parts: comic film stars from the dawn of sound. The Antipholuses of Syracuse (Bill Mootos) and Ephesus (John Kuntz) are both Harold Lloyd, their Dromios (of Syracuse, Clifford M. Allen; of Ephesus Ilyse Robbins) are Charlie Chaplin's tramp. The goldsmith (Clifford M. Allen) and the merchant (Geoffrey Burns) are Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the smoky courtesan (Jennifer Valentine) is Mae West, and there are even Keystone Kops. And each one in this delightful hall of mirrors delivers Shakespeare's intertwined lines as though these stylistic zanies had all been cast in the same Mack Sennett two-reeler. Once the spring is wound, it's a breakneck riot.

Of course, there's a lot of flat-out exposition involved in winding that spring, what with Richard LaFrance's Duke giving Robert Saoud's Egeon a death sentence merely for coming from Syracuse if he can't come up with a thousand marks. Director Veloudos has Egeon and Emilia (Beth Gotha) mime his dreary tale of twin-births and shipwrecks as a flickering silent-movie with voice-over, there's a song and piano music from Steven Bergman --- but of course it's the entrance of the commedians that kick-starts the action.

The illusion is uncanny. They have managed to put the style, stance, gestures, inflections, timing and facial twitches of those old stars on stage without sacrificing the bouyant unreality of their age. And they do it twice. It's one thing to see Peter A. Carey's Dromio dance and flutter about as Chaplin's tramp; it's another to see Ilyse Robbins match him, detail for detail. And it is a sheer delight, for instance, to see Geoffrey Burns' Ollie fiddle with his tie. This is truly a hall of mirrors, with Shakespeare's rattling comic dialogue adding a whole new dimension.

As the wife and her sister, Linda Amendola and Andrea Walker haven't opted for specific historic figures, but Toni Bratton Elliott's excellent costumes peg them as '20s flappers giving the boys a hard time. They are classic types, just as all these characters are, resurfacing with new detail ever since their birth back in Rome.

As this new year starts, I must say something about Spiro Veloudos' work in making, as he is proud to call them "Eleven Boston actors" into not so much an ensemble, as a company. Everyone here is confident enough and familiar enough to give center-stage to one another for shining individual moments, yet trusting enough to fling one another wildly across the stage expecting to be caught and whirled away again. Veloudos too has trusted his company to grow, as I've seen Bill Mootos or Geoffrey Burns grow until, like Peter A. Carey or Robert Saoud or John Kuntz, they disappear into each new role rather than stencilling their style upon it. It is a pleasure to come again and again to Veloudos productions to watch all these talents develop.

Love,
===Anon.


"Comedy of Errors" (till 6 February)
LYRIC STAGE COMPANY OF BOSTON, INC.
140 Clarendon St. BOSTON
1(617)437-7172

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

| MARQUEE | USHER | SEATS | INTERMISSION | CURTAIN |