By Darren Tynan
One of Shakespeare's earliest comedies, The Comedy Of Errors, will come to life on stage at BREC on Thursday 8 August, 11am and 7.30pm. As a premier collaboration between Australia's national Shakespeare company, Bell Shakespeare, and the State Theatre Company of South Australia, the show promises to be a lusciously surreal tale of hilarity, witticisms, confusion and madness. As part of a six month tour to 31 locations, Bunbury will become a hotspot for this tour de force and you'd be mad to miss it.
At its core, The Comedy Of Errors is a strange tale of reconciliation. Although the surreal plot development and confusing mishaps in the play are sure to bewilder and delight audiences simultaneously, the basic premise of the narrative is easy enough to grasp. The story begins when a merchant's wife gives birth to identical twins. Another couple have twins on the same day, who are purchased by the merchant as servants to his sons. These two sets of identical twins are separated at birth, as a shipwreck divides the family apart, and they re-join in the city of Ephesus many years later.
Ephesus is a place that illustrates the transitory phases and reuniting of the twins, yet it also becomes a backdrop for all the intangible Shakespearean madness of the play. Boundaries of reality and imagination blur and become questionable, the identity of characters shifts and changes, and philosophical questions of the nature of individuality and reality emerge.
Directed by Award-winning director Imara Savage, a cast of ten Australian actors adopt different guises to portray the population of the city of Ephesus. As Imara Savage states, the play is not only a comedy but also a meditation on identity and fear:
"The Comedy Of Errors is a farce, but there is darkness in the light. Shakespeare raises questions of identity, sameness and difference. It's about the fear of the other, fear of the unknown. And
it's about brotherhood and reconciliation," - Director Imara Savage.
Perhaps the way in which the actors adopt different guises is not too dissimilar to the roles we adopt in our everyday lives, mirroring the Shakespearean line: "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players".
For a play that trembles with madness, yet heightens its themes with hilarity and wordplay, be sure to see The Comedy Of Errors.