VST presents ‘A Comedy of Errors’

Eve Ellis-Monaghan

St. Mary’s auditorium featured black-box style seating for 50 spectators huddled around two sides of the stage last Friday. The set was only about five square yards, with several doors, an abbey, an inn and a house. Only the stage was lit, but the audience members were so close, they could see each other’s faces. This was not to be a performance where one could sit shrouded in darkness, focused on a distant show; it was close, intimate and interactive. From the moment the actors entered, the stage was set for a hilarious evening.

Filled to the brim with dramatic irony, William Shakespeare’s first play, “The Comedy of Errors,” is a case of mistaken identities. The main characters are two sets of twins are the main characters, Antipholus and his servant Dromio, both of Syracuse, and their brothers, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephasis. The sets of brothers are separated by shipwreck not long after birth. Many years later, they happen to spend a day in the town of Ephesus. Antipholus is confounded when his friends and family suddenly claim he has done things and been places he has not. The other is surprised to find a town where everyone knows him although he has, as of yet, met no one.

A comedy of mixed-up servants, masters and wives follows this classic Shakespearian set-up. While the premise is improbable to say the least, the situations and confusions that arise are so human and believable the audience cannot help but laugh.

Villanova Student Theatre does this comedy justice and then some. The actors used the Elizabethan language to express the plot and the attitude of the play, while remembering not to put Shakespeare on a pedestal. Director Shanna Waggenheim and the fantastic cast went beyond the text, using the attitude of the language to create an appropriate physical slapstick comedy. Shakespeare’s comedies were written to be funny and even crude. From the beginning, VST kept Shakespeare’s spirit alive. Watching the actors’ expressions was a show in itself.

The cast did an excellent job with the difficult Shakespearian language, and its brimming emotion bridged the gap of time. Ending with satisfied laughter, the performance was a rousing success all around.

There will be additional performances on tomorrow and Saturday in St. Mary’s auditorium.