Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Anyone who has ever read a Shakespeare or two will be aware of his love of mistaken identity, whopping errors of judgement and questionable life choices: A Comedy of Errors (More or Less) will absolutely confirm all these things and bring them kicking and screaming into the 1980’s. Think sensational shell suits, stunning shoulder pads, a beltin’ blast of Fergal Sharkey and you’re halfway there.
This new co-production between Prescot’s Shakespeare North Playhouse and Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre, creatively adapted by Elizabeth Godber and Nick Lane takes the Bard’s much-loved comedy and sprinkles it with lashings of Northern humour, some top quality 80’s bangers while relocating it to the sunny climes of Scarborough.
The original plot has never been the easiest to follow but this clever adaptation gifts us with additional narration along the way as well as some brilliant modernisation allowing the comedy of the piece to really shine.
We’ve got two sets of mismatched twins, a Lancastrian named Antipholus who arrives in Scarborough to deliver his hard-grafted one-man fringe show, trouble is, the twin he doesn’t know he has, is already there, owes money to half of Yorkshire and has plans to star in a packed-out talent show on the very same night. His pal/long suffering assistant Dromio also has a missing twin who, you guessed it, is also in Scarborough. Cue a fantastic farce that will have you laughing out loud from the very start.
This talented cast work incredibly hard delivering this reimagined classic, they are superb. Set in the round in the stunning cockpit theatre, Director Paul Robinson has ensured every inch of the space is used with every seat in the house getting a cracking view of the on-stage action. They literally don’t stop, several taking on multiple roles making proceedings all the funnier for it. The whole premise of the piece may be chaotic as each twin is continually mistaken for the other, but the storytelling is clear, hugely entertaining, and incredibly impressive. As the action becomes more farcical so does the comedy, there were many occasions I was crying with laughter as the exasperated twins get more and more confused.
David Kirkbride as Anitpholous of Scarborough/Prescot is hilarious, his loyal defining of what it is to be a Prescotarian has the audience in stiches while his performance as the chaos ramps up is a joy. Oliver Mawdsley who plays alongside Kirkbride as Dromio of Scarborough/Prescot is perfectly cast. The two make for a genius pairing, playing off each other with ease as the banter and laughter flows.
The changing up of Luciana’s (Ida Regan) character is a stroke of genius, she’s not the meek and mild version we know from Shakespeare’s pen but strong, assertive and gives as good as she gets leading to some fantastic scenes between her and Adriana, (Alyce Liburd). Both are excellent in their roles and clearly having a lot of fun with them.
Andy Cryer absolutely shines in his multiple roles, drawing your attention whenever he hits the stage. Valerie Antwi and Claire Eden bring brilliantly unexpected elements to the story while both ramping up the laughter levels even more.
This is a true ensemble piece, with each cast member bringing their absolute A game to the stage. The local referencing, playful narration and inventive reimagining have made this production both accessible and immensely enjoyable. The placing of several 80’s favourites adds to the fun with Alyce Liburd and Ida Regan’s Act II opener, a rendition of Cher’s Jesse James being a real highlight while I’ll now never hear Nick Kershaw’s Wouldn’t It Be Good without it raising a smile.
Shakespeare North Playhouse and Stephen Joseph Theatre have delivered an absolute cracker with this production, ensuring this modern-day Shakespeare is a must-see. The Comedy of Errors (More or Less) is an absolute riot, pure joy from start to finish.
The Comedy of Errors (More or Less) is on at Shakespeare North Playhouse until Saturday 25th March tickets available here.