by Lorie Lewis Ham
The Woodward Shakespeare Festival in Fresno opened its 7th season this past weekend and I had the joy of seeing Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors for the first time. This is said to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest works, possibly his first, and is his shortest and most farcical.
Comedy of Errors is about two sets of twins separated at sea as babies, and the incredibly funny way their lives come together again through a series of mishaps and mistaken identity. There are the two brothers, Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus, and then their twin servants Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus. The story begins with the Antipholus brothers’ father about to be executed for a debt after searching for years for his lost sons—as the one who had ended up with him had long ago gone on a quest for his brother.
In the show’s program the director, Brad Meyers, who is Professor of Theater at Fresno State, says that central to the play’s story is the universal theme of the need for family. In an effort to modernize this play he set it in the 1950s, a time known for it’s iconic images on television of the family.
Festival Managing Director Laura Vogt, stated that they chose this show because they felt it would be a good fit for their outdoor space and it is a really fun, comedic script that audiences will like. “Having Brad direct for us is also a great opportunity and he wanted to direct Comedy.”
Local actor, director and musician Anthony Taylor plays Duke Solinus and Luce the kitchen wench who is engaged to Dromio of Ephesus. This is his first time performing in the Woodward Festival. While working with Meyers in a Good Company Players production, Meyers suggested Taylor audition and he’s glad that he did. “It’s been a fantastic experience and a real fun and talented cast to work with.”The cast of this show sports many familiar names for Valley area theater goers such as Terry Lewis who recently played the Phantom in Visalia, the very funny Benjamin McNamara who has been seen in all of StageWorks Fresno’s shows, Gabriela Lawson who has been in numerous Festival plays, and many others, along with some wonderful newcomers. One of the standout newcomers was Ryan Christopher Woods who was so amazingly funny as The Courtesan! But EVERYONE was wonderful!
Comedy may now be my favorite Shakespeare play. I absolutely loved it! Everyone in it was wonderful. I can’t remember the last time I laughed this much. If you love Shakespeare you have to see it, if you have never tried Shakespeare this is the perfect show for your first. Even my little two year old niece and my teenagers loved it!
The Festival this year is doing two other shows, All My Sons beginning July 28 and Romeo & Juliet beginning August 25. There is a park entrance fee of $5 per car, but tickets to the shows are free, but chairs are first come, first served – to guarantee a seat, you can reserve one for just $10 or get a season ticket for $25, at the Woodward Shakespeare Website. You can also call Laura Vogt at (559) 974-5601, or visit the Festival’s KRL event page. Also, be sure and check out an article on the company we published last summer.
I highly recommend seeing Comedy of Errors! And you just can’t beat the price! Comedy is definitely a perfect night out for the entire family. Just a note-this show has no intermission.
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