The Comedy of Errors (Bath)
Take a group of 60 – 80 eight to twenty-one year olds, put them together for 2 weeks of intensive rehearsal, give them a Shakespeare comedy and see what comes out at the end.
What came out at the end is a magnificent evening’s entertainment! The power and energy from these young actors is amazing. The beautiful setting of the Ball Court of Prior Park College and the fact that it didn’t rain on press night at least, all adds to the success of the evening!
The play is performed by The Egg Theatre - the children and young people’s arm of the Theatre Royal in Bath, and this is their summer performance – known as “Storm on the Lawn” – of The Comedy of Errors. For those who don’t know the play, it is the story of two sets of identical twins, separated years ago, who find themselves unexpectedly in the same place at the same time; and their parents, also separated during a fierce storm whilst on a voyage (confused yet?). You can imagine the confusion and chaos that reigns but suffice it to say that all’s well that ends well!
The play has been sympathetically adapted by Jill Bennett. In her own words, Jill creates “a world where all human life has to rub along together every day – a world where people do business, keep secrets, yearn for lost loved ones, argue, joke and dance together, and where their private lives are played out in public.” It sounds quite familiar when put like that – in fact could have been taken from any recent newspaper!
Director Heidi Vaughan shows an assured touch and some fantastic ideas. For example the characters of both Antipholus and Dromio are played not by 4 people as normally happens but by 18. The change from one person to another is cleverly effected throughout by use of a very well disciplined chorus and “magic”. It works!
The standard of acting is excellent – to have up to 60 people on the stage at any one time is no mean feat for any director, and to make sure that everyone can be heard in an open air production – bearing in mind the extreme youth of some of the cast – is a big challenge, which they achieve well.
The music directed by John Biddle is delightful and never intrusive and the costumes designed by Harriet De Winton who also designed the set, are fun. The setting is wonderfully simple using scaffolding, a car, old tyres and just about anything else you can think of, and works brilliantly – of course having the back drop of the beautiful Ball Court is a bonus.
With this production Heidi Vaughan hopes to “celebrate the play, the place and young performers, designers, musicians and technicians. All of which bring something powerfully dynamic to our play.”
Having seen the appalling spectacle of last week’s riots and the terrible press our young people have received as a result, I urge you to come and see this production to see just how creative, hardworking, disciplined and conscientious young people can be – well done everyone!