Monday, September 19, 2011

The Comedy of Errors

Cylan Brown as Dromio of Syracuse minds the front gate. Photo by Seth Miller

If ever there was an antidote for the malaise of too many* staid, stilted or just plain awful Shakespearean productions, the Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble’s spirited production of The Comedy of Errors is surely it. But when you go and see it (and you should most definitely go and see it), don’t scrimp. Use that ticket money you save on this free admission show for a beer and a hot dog -- assuming the Ensemble keeps the grill going over the run of the show. I hope they do. This is beer and a hot dog Shakespeare; theatre for the groundlings, and we are, if anything, a nation of groundlings.

The play is the Bard’s shortest, most whimsical romp. Mistaken identity forms the core of the plot -- or rather is the set-up for a number of comical bits.

The Ensemble creates a festive atmosphere outdoors, on the back patio at Powerhouse Theater, with a set cobbled together from leftover platforms and crates.

Director Drew Shirley’s cast is lively, engaging in inspired physical comedy; well-orchestrated chaos. The flurry of activity is an absolute delight, and every performer commits 100% to the tale. Particularly delightful is Greyson Lewis, who does double duty as a comically inept Officer and a gratuitously “sexy” Courtesan.

The hysterics are not pointless. The physical jokes grow out of the material, and jokes written in the material play very well on their own. Nothing in the staging is out of place. For instance, an extended dance sequence towards the end of the first act is appropriate to the story, erupting deliciously out of the moment.

This is a show full of belly laughs. It truly is popular theatre, just as the Bard's works were intended. The Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble is having fun, and they invite the audience to join the party. I’d RSVP if I were you.

The Comedy of Errors is performed Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:00 pm through September 24th at The Powerhouse Theatre, 3116 2nd Street in Santa Monica (one block east of Main, between Rose & Marine).

Admission is free, but they will accept donations. Reservations are recommended. To reserve your seats, visit Los Angeles Theatre Ensemble online at http://www.latensemble.com/ or http://www.powerhousetheatre.com/.

The Ensemble invites their Audiences to bring picnics or purchase food and drinks at the performance.

*Arises the question, how many bad Shakespeare plays are too many? You can count the answer on one finger.

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