CSC’s “Comedy of Errors” Hits the Jackpot
Review by Liz Eichler
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s Comedy of Errors is a non-stop flight to classic Vegas where you’ll enjoy almost non-stop belly laughs as this hilarious mashup hits the jackpot.
Comedy of Errors is a story about two sets of twins, masters and their servants, separated as infants, when one grown set (master Antipholus of Syracuse and servant Dromio of Syracuse) unknowingly arrives in the same town (Ephasus) as the others. Mistaken identity, physical, scatalogical and married-life jokes abound until the unraveling of all of the mistaken threads.
Directed by Jeremy Dubin, with no holds barred. No laugh is too small, no prop is too big. This show is full of surprises, and it is true to the classical version of comedy–with a lot of singing and dancing. One thing you need to know–Ephesians hate Syracusians. This set-up is very clear in the pre-show.
The Duke of Ephesus (Michael Bath), runs the town and has to decide if Egeon (Stephan Wolfert), a traveler from the detested town of Syracuse, should sleep with the fishes (just for being from Syracuse). Egeon shares the story of his search for lost twins, and Egeon grants him a day to raise 1000 marks or its curtains. (Thanks to projections, his story is 100% clear even to those new to Shakespeare’s imagery.)
The Antipholus twins are well played by Cristian Wiltshire (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Charles Gidney (Antipholus of Ephesus). Both also deliver great comic timing and strong physicality, but because they are the masters to the servants Dromio their characters cannot indulge themselves quite as much as the fools.
I sat in the first row, and there were times I HONESTLY had to figure out if that was Justin McCombs or Carey Davenport as the twin Dromios. McCombs, one of the local kings of comedy, knows how to get the laughs. He knows timing and physicality, and has starred in many shows in his 15 years at CSC. All I have to do is tell my husband McCombs is in a show and he wants tickets. But Cary Davenport, in his 4th season at CSC, upped the ante and met every comedic bid. His delivery is sharp, his timing is on the money. Davenport is known for his amazing musical skills, but after this show he earned his place as a headliner.
Kelly Mengelkoch as the beautiful Adriana, Antipholus of Ephesus’s long-suffering wife, plays through a full deck of emotions, from loving, to frustrated, to anger and betrayal. Her sister Luciana, played by Colleen Dougherty, eagerly shares her desire to roll the dice into the joys of matrimony.
Filling out the ensemble is Angeline Archer, Brianna Miller, Rachel Perin (also choreographer), Patrick Earl Phillips (who also sings in the pre-show), Dawn Stern, and Nathan Sullivan who juggle multiple roles and add to the mayhem and enjoyment of this production.
Another star of the show is the brilliant partnership with the American Sign Museum, whose neon signs help Scenic Designer Samantha Reno nail the Las Vegas theme. Rainy Edwards’ Costumes are colorful, interesting and fit well.. Justen N. Locke’s Lighting is crisp and bright, and the Projections (Locke and Robert Carlton Stimmel) help transport you to another time and place.
CSC’s Comedy of Errors has all of the elements of comedy–mistaken identity, word play, love, marriage, physical antics, visual puns, fools, music, dance and more. Whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas–so there’s a lot more happening in the show that you just have to see for yourself. If you love Shakespeare, or are new to Shakespeare, if you love the Rat Pack and the early days of Vegas, this is the show for you. For tickets go to https://cincyshakes.com/.
Liz Eichler, MBA, MTA is a past president of LCT. She currently teaches Marketing at University of Dayton, starting her 20th year teaching in college. She’s also been a theatre marketing and costuming professional.