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Creation Theatre Company - The Comedy of Errors

29th January to 19th March 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Fast and magical

Creation Theatre: The Comedy of Errors, at the BMW Plant Oxford, until March 19

The Comedy of Errors, the second of Creation Theatre Company’s winter productions in the Spiegeltent at the BMW Plant, Oxford, is their funniest, most fast-paced show yet. Director Charlotte Conquest makes the most of the many doors on stage to create imaginative opportunities for chasing and hiding whilst Polly Laurence’s set and costume design employ a chequer-board motif (maybe a nod towards Ian Judge’s 1990 RSC production?) to great effect.

The action takes place in Ephesus, in a mood of fear and suspicion. Egeon from Syracuse (Matthew Hendrickson) is arrested by the authorities, placed under a death sentence and can only be reprieved if someone stands surety for him by 5pm.

Egeon’s story is cleverly dramatised by a puppet- show depicting his tragic history. A sense of near-disaster underpins all the subsequent comedy.

Unknown to Egeon, two other newly-arrived visitors from Syracuse could save his life: Antipholus (Andy Crabb) and his bald servant Dromio (Scott Brooksbank). The conceit is that they are, confusingly, identical twins of the same names as an Ephesus master and servant, manically played by James Rochfort and Seamus John Allen.

From the moment we are introduced to this foursome, misunderstandings abound as everyone mistakes one twin for another. Many an audience member unfamiliar with the play did not realise that there were two actors playing the Dromios until the resolution in the last scene – that’s the magic of theatre!

Antipholus of Ephesus has to cope with the jealousy of his wife Adriana (Amanda Haberland), while paying for a necklace before his jeweller ends up in prison. Antipholus of Syracuse prefers chasing Adriana’s alluring sister Luciana (Amy Stacy).

Conquest makes the most of the description of Dr Pinch as a conjurer: he performs a series of magic tricks pulling items out of an attaché case but this is only the hors d’oeuvre. Wheeled onto the stage is a magic box in which Antipholus of Ephesus has his head stretched and rotated.

The fight scenes are full of light touches as a fish, brolly, bellows and colander are used as weapons. It’s all quite wonderful and wacky.