Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist
poliphilo

A Comedy Of Errors At The Globe

The Comedy of Errors is an oddity- farce rather than comedy- and not much like anything else in the canon. We know it was presented at a big shindig at Gray's Inn and it's my guess the lawyers commissioned it specially; They'd have been grammar school boys and therefore Latinists- and I can see them going to the players and saying, "We want something as much like Plautus as you can make it". It's a heartless play- by Shakespearian standards- but with the potential to be genuinely funny. Right at the end- with the families reunited- comes a chance to do something other than merely amuse- and echoes bounce back- across the breadth of a career- from Cymbeline and A Winter's Tale.

This Globe production (2014) majors on knockabout. It's a big stage- with plenty of room to go large- and there's chasing and beating and throwing and shouting.  Much violence is done- but no-one is really hurt- and no doubt this sort of thing went on at the original Globe as well. Shakespeare's clowns were big stars and to get there they must have done a lot more than is preserved in the play texts. A wordless opening sequence- quite unShakespearian- involving a Dromio (Jamie Wilks) and a clothesline- is slow burn physical comedy and worthy of Buster Keaton.
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