At the Mesa Arts Center, Class 6 Theatre presented Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors” with a comical addition of puppets. While a classic play with puppets might seem like a silly concept, Class 6 Theatre executed it seamlessly and made it organic.
It helped that the play was a comedy. The tone of “Comedy of Errors” is lighter and more ludicrous than Shakespeare’s other plays.
For context, “Comedy of Errors” thrives on confusion humor due to numerous mistaken identities. The story centers on a merchant named Egeon, his son Antipholus and his slave Dromio looking for the missing members of their family. Egeon lost his wife and Antipholus and Dromio both lost their twin identical brothers during a violent windstorm.
A different boat saved the lost members of their family, so they venture out to Ephesus to find them. The confusion humor presented itself as people in the city mistake Antipholus for his twin brother and Dromio for his twin.
This is where the puppets became a vital addition to the play. The puppets were use to distinguish who was the real Antipholus and Dromio and who was the twin. Several other times in the play, characters switched out from being human to being puppets.
This take on Shakespeare was a clever contrivance. The set design allowed them to go back and forth, human to puppet and vice versa, without ruining the flow of the play. There were a couple of instants where characters were shown as silhouettes, using lighting creatively. And most importantly, this rendition of “Comedy of Errors” was genuinely funny.
Sticking with a family-friendly presentation while combining it with the darker aspects of the play must have been a hard feat. Shakespeare’s original text contains moments where Antipholus beat his slave and where he sleeps with a harlot. There was also scene in the text where Antipholus tried to disfigure his wife’s face.
Inventive supplements were included to make Shakespeare more accessible. The dark moments were toned down or removed all together.
When Antipholus hits Dromio because he thinks Dromio was playing a cruel joke on him, the lights flickered and puts the punch in slow motion. Watering down the grim aspects of the play and putting emphasis on the lighter moments worked out wonderfully. The charm and charisma of the actors and how they interacted with each other worked wonderfully.
Class 6 Theatre not only took one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays and made it accessible for family audiences, but also made it truly entertaining. Class 6 Theatre’s “Comedy of Errors” was great fun, and it was definitely worth the ticket price.
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