The scaled-down production of Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors which Shakespeare's Globe is touring this summer is directed by Rebecca Gatward. She uses a cast of just eight players, many of whom double roles – which works to hilarious effect in the performances of the Antipholus and Dromio twins. There is much movement and music to set the mood right from the beginning.
Even with an indoor space, such as Bury St Edmunds Georgian Theatre Royal, Liz Cooke's reconstruction of a touring company's acting booth on stage does not mean that the action is in any way confined. Actors rush down into the pit, escape through and round the boxes and in general involve the audience as part of the madcap happenings. It's a bit like the traditional Christmas pantomime in that respect.
We're in an Asia Minor vaguely contemporary with us, that nods to the archaeological and anthropological importance of the region. Johanne Murdock for example, who plays the Abbess and the Courtesan. first appears with a necklace reminding us that one of the epithets for Artemis (Diana) the patron goddess of Ephesus (which is where the action takes place) is the many-breasted. It's a society where men inhabit the public places and women (mainly) fret behind doors at home.
Sarah Ridgeway's Adriana, driven frantic by her husband's odd behaviour, has a tinge of the WAG about her as she sees her own position (and comfortable financial future) threatened. In a professional début performance, Dana Gartland makes Luciana a bookworm, all round-eye spectacles and well-meaning aphorisms. They are both very funny performances of young women who manage to combine assurance with vulnerability.
Another début is that of Ronan Rattery. His Ephesian Antipholos is a starry-eyed tourist with just a hint of a colonial twang in his voice; the sort of slightly naive traveller just asking to be fleeced by the far more canny natives. Antipholos of Ephemus, by contrast, is an assured young man about (his home) town. He knows what he's worth, and makes sure that so does everyone else.
But the star of the show is Milos Yerlemou as the Dromio twins. The Syracusian incarnation knows that he's brighter than his master and resents both that and his bondman status. Ephesian Dromio knows his slightly privileged place in the household and is correspondingly put out when it is threatened by his apparent master's apparently inexplicable behaviour. Yerlemou takes all the knocks, falls about all over the place (quite literally) and keeps the audience completely on his side from start to finish.
The role-doubling works very well; there's a neat touch when Murdock has to be both Abbess and Courtesan at the same time in the last scene, another when Cornelius Booth is both captive Egeon and fakir Pinch and a third when Philip Battley switches between Duke Solinus and goldsmith Angelo. Some of the verse-speaking could be better; this is particularly true of the long speeches in the opening scene and the rhyming couplet exchanges of the first scene of the second act.