photograph by Jay Gorodetzer
The Comedy of Errors by Friends’ Central School in Wynnewood, PA
March 7, 2018
Review submitted by Nancy Bowne of Eastern Regional High School
Enter the Friends’ Central School theater, anticipating a rendition of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, poised in Elizabethan accents, staging, and attire. But suddenly, a row of tap dancers in tailcoats and flapper threads emerge, singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”
William Shakespeare crafted The Comedy of Errors in 1594. The play follows the relations between two twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse, who became separated as infants. They disrupt each other’s lives, unknowingly, along with their servants, also twins, named Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus. Eventually, all is reconciled with much rejoicing.
1920s flappers, tappers, and clowns, oh my! The cast of Friends’ Central School’s production not only reinterpreted William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, but fully captivated the audience’s interest through this play of mixed identities and quarrels.
The brothers, played by Miles Meline and Jesse Gross, impeccably created a frenzied air as they clashed with people from the other brother’s life. Both actors physically reacted and delivered lines with poise. They also had great physical chemistry with their servants, played by Nina Saligman and Mira Kauffman-Rosengarten. These actresses had everyone laughing with the undelivered plans and shenanigans.
Supporting characters, such Antipholus of Ephesus’ wife, Adriana, (Margaux Berland) and Luciana (McKenna Blinman) also powered the show’s comic timing. Something that made this production’s rendition especially unique was certain musical numbers that included these actresses as well as Bessie/Abbess (Saleana Copeland), whose powerful, warm voice, comforted the entire audience wherever she appeared on the stage or audience. The ensemble was a major component to this reactive show. Instead of blackouts, various clowns appeared. They pantomimed the show’s conflict, even portraying character backstories and noises through specific props. All these light touches made a heavy impression.
Friends’ Central School also enhanced the play through the popping lighting, sound, and makeup within the small theater. Their smiles and sparkles illuminated around the wonderful set as well. The show also had a student pianist, Evan Sweitzer, who arranged and performed incidental piano music throughout the show. Amidst the conflict of the characters, the music created a charming, at-ease atmosphere.
Shakespeare’s work grants artists license for infinite interpretations. Friends’ Central School gracefully performed the show with a succinct sense of community and a good time. The audience appeared to have a swell time in the comedic mayhem and physicality. There will be errors in life, but in the reconnection to our relations, we shall find comedy and strength.
Review submitted by Xandra Coleman of Phoenixville Area High School
With flappin’, tappin’, and clownin’, Friends’ Central School brought the Elizabethan Shakespearean Comedy of Errors into modern enjoyment.
Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s first plays, and one of the most farcical. The plot follows the one day saga of two identical twins, both named Antipholus, and their two identical servants, both named Dromio, who were separated at sea when they were merely infants. Unbeknownst to anyone, both sets of twins end up in the same town of Ephesus, and the audience watches as constant mistaken identity wreaks havoc on the lives of everyone involved. In Friends’ Central’s interpretation of the play, the plot is set in the 1920s with flappers and tappers and even Charlie Chaplin and his clowns.
In this production, no ensemble member went unnoticed. The Flapper and Tapper ensemble solidified the 1920s atmosphere with entertaining choreographed musical interludes between scenes characteristic of the 1920s. The Red-Nosed Clowns were functional and funny as their comedic scenes paralleled the plot giving the audience a humorous translation of confusing Shakespearean language.
Overall, the cast took on the challenge of performing original Shakespearean speech impressively. Each speaking role displayed a thorough understanding of the language with an articulate and purposeful delivery of each line. Cast members also showed remarkable commitment to character in a confusing plot where actors are asked to interact with each twin and each servant with the same attitude as if they were the same individual.
Both Antipholus of Ephesus (Miles Meline) and Antipholus of Syracusa (Jesse Gross) gave a convincing performance of two confused and frustrated characters displaying mounting anger and annoyance with each passing event. Their counterparts, Dromio of Ephesus (Mira Kauffman-Rosengarten) and Dromio of Syracusa (Nina Saligman) took on their roles with a particular show of commitment inciting even more laughter from the audience as their confused masters sent them literally tumbling and running.
Sass and loyalty emanated from McKenna Blinman (Luciana) as she interacted with her distraught sister and competently handled the lover’s pursuits of Antipholus of Ephesus (Miles Meline) who she believed was her sister’s husband. Margaux Berland (Adriana) pulled off the distressed wife convincingly through versatility in her emotions, changing from furious to hurt to jealous.
A notable work of creativity was completed through Evan Sweitzer, a sophomore at Friends’ Central School who collected, arranged, and performed the numerous accompaniments to the 1920 musical interludes by the Tappers and Flappers ensemble along with incidental music characteristic of the 1920s time period. His efforts brought the entire 1920s atmosphere to a new level.
The sound of laughter rarely halted from the audience of Friends’ Central School’s production of The Comedy of Errors. It was a show of constant entertainment as the cast brilliantly took on the challenging task of performing Shakespeare.