GlenbrookPlayers: The Comedy of Errors - Review by Faith Jessel
Any community theatre company brave and adventurous enough to tackle the works of Mr William Shakespeare deserves a hearty bravo. So, bravo to The Glenbrook Players for bringing The Comedy of Errors to the foot of Blue Mountains, staged at the charming and warmly welcoming Glenbrook Cinema.
This roughly 429 year old play is a clever choice for amateur theatre entertainment for several reasons. Once the stakes are out of the way; 'if any Syracusan born / Come to the bay of Ephesus, he dies', we quickly about-face to the joys of mistaken identities and slapstick comedy, complete with food fights and rubber chickens. It's one of Mr Shakespeare’s shortest and most delightfully lighthearted, pun-packed plays and is therefore, wonderfully whimsical, amusing and accessible.
Director Felicity Jean has curated an enterprising cast, support crew and creatives. Glenbrook Players encourages anyone who loves the ‘doing’ and ‘making’ of theatre and are always on the lookout for new members to refresh and renew creative energy. So it is admirable that this is clearly evident in the young and rising talent of a 12 strong cast, relishing their performances and the witty banter Shakespeare demands.
In a nutshell, The Comedy of Errors is a story that relies on the audience's complete surrender to suspension of belief. Two sets of identical twins, separated at birth, exist in one place, at one time, and a series of events are made ridiculous by the number of errors or hilarious mix-ups involving siblings, significant others, and strangers in the city of Ephesus. Many modern farces, sitcoms and stand up sketches are recognizable from this implausible plot. The twist is, the director has also reversed many of the gender roles!
Thankfully, clever colour-coded costumes by a team of Glenbrook members assist the audience to quickly establish and sustain the thread of who is playing what, where and why. They complement the set design (also by Felicity Jean) mounted in the form of a tudor style pastoral courtyard which makes excellent use of the limited space, at times breaking the 4th wall and moving through the audience.
Lighting design by Sam Hardaker also adds to the fun with various spotlights cordoning the madcap action, asides and soliloquies. The purposeful and rapid timing of the cross-cues created pace and highlighted the buffoonery and played well alongside the sound design by someone named in the program as …Anonymous.
Apart from this amusement, there were also several stand out comedic moments to enjoy. Angela Pezzano and her doppelganger Apollonia Zivanovic as the hapless Dromino’s of Epheus and Syracuse, both produced some classically hilarious clowning with aid of a squeaky sausage, a peach and eggplant and then later being enlisted as a human battering ram, drawing some of the biggest laughs of the night.
Tre Doyle plays Adriano, fittingly reminiscent of Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, as he magnanimously bursts through the doors, posturing and preening with gusto. His wife and her doppelganger, respectively played by Jorja Harrison and Kimberly Hopkinson, are blessedly unruffled in the face of the mounting confusion and calamity, grounding the hijinks. Hopkinson also doubles as Pinch, a wonderfully eccentric conjurer and exorcist who appears in a puff of glitter. The plot just keeps getting more ludicrous and unapologetically absurd as the evening unwinds, resulting in a reunion between a mysterious nun and her long lost…no I won't give too much away :)
Thank goodness for the level headed acumen of Duke Solinus, played with regal gravitas by Zak Harrison, who sorts out the word play and plot jumble. Everything, of course, ends with much satisfaction and festivity.
Glenbrook Cinema is to be commended in supporting the local arts community by extending its premises to the Glenbrook Players. Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast, so while you are there make sure to tuck in to possibly the best choc top you will ever come across when you sit back and laugh as the plastic fruit and meat products fly across the stage.
I give it 3 rubber chooks out of 5.