The Comedy of Errors (Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, Chester)
Elise Gallagher finds that the Grosvenor Park open air production of The Comedy of Errors is as excellent and evocative as their Othello.
8 Aug 2014
This time last year I declared that Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre's Othello was "faultless". I am delighted to report that this year's The Comedy of Errors was even better.
Though this is obviously more light hearted and comical production than the thriller Othello, I have honestly never had so much fun watching a performance. Sure, the narrative is at times, silly and simplistic, but it works wonderfully well.
We follow a pair of identical twins who have been separated at birth, who were also matched with identical slave twins – who were again, separated at birth. This is not untypical Bard territory though.
Mistaken identity is a recurrent theme which runs throughout Shakespeare's work. Productions such as Twelfth Night, Measure For Measure and As You Like It all use the notion of one person being mistaken for another, evidently a tried and tested concept which has audiences of all ages in hysterics. On the night I attended, I actually saw a man slapping his knee with laughter at numerous slapstick scenes.
The cast are all excellent with Thomas Richardson standing out, as he easily blends the perfect balance of comedy and innocence to his character. Pryal and Kempton also shine, however it was the Bird twins who I was most impressed with. Both performances were so energetic that it intoxicated the audience; they never stopped.
The addition of modern music embedded within the the narrative is inspired. Going in I didn't know that it was going to take place in an arguably modern setting. Bonkers but in a good way, as it works.
A small congregation follow the narrative with the audience, adding songs from artists such as Britney Spears and Jessie J which immediately grants them applause. Most characters also interact with the audience.
On the night I went, some sat at a table with two audience members, eating their meals with them whilst others provided jokes with the spectators. Richardson and the Bird twins being particular favourites with sun worshippers. Max Gallagher's Michael Crawford-esque Jailer gains laughter as soon as he appears.
This excellent cast are completely in sync with one another and the piece therefore runs like clockwork and I never wanted it to end.
The welcoming/hospitality team within the Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre are as good as the cast as they work just as hard and ensure that every single audience member's needs are seen to.
As the narrative matured so did the night sky leaving The Comedy of Errors under the spotlight and leaving audience members moonstruck.