Fringe Review: The Comedy of Errors @ Underbelly Ermintrude
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Performed by the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School Student Ensemble, this adaption of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors breathes new life into the centuries-old play.
The confusion between the characters, in a classic case of Shakespearean mistaken identity, is amplified as cast members adopt multiple roles, and the fast-paced changes demonstrate the true abilities of these young actors. Every cast member effortlessly shifts their accent, posture, mannerisms, and so on, in a seamless transition between characters.
The performers maintain respect for Shakespeare’s creation, using the words, and staying true to the comedic plot, of the literary genius. The seemingly impossible task of combining Shakespearean monologues and modern comedy is achieved here.
Who knew that Shakespearean monologues and cockney accents could co-exist in a play?
The injection of current culture makes the performance accessible to all – the audience was composed of all ages and the children appeared to enjoy the story as much as the adults. This fast-paced show will destroy any stereotype of Shakespearean plays as "boring" or "hard-to-follow".
One section which stood out was a fight scene which left the audience roaring with laughter. The incredible choreography of the fight, as well as the heckles from cast members, worked perfectly on stage. The energy and dynamism of the actors, particularly when the whole cast worked together in a scene, is remarkable.
The costumes, perhaps due to the rapid changes required by the cast, are not particularly exciting. Each actor appears to be wearing their own daily (sometimes holey) attire, adding and taking away various pieces of clothing according to the role they are currently playing. This randomness took away from the otherwise synchronised performance.
However, other than the attire, this show is incredible. The audience were laughing from the moment the first few lines were delivered right up until the final bow.
The Comedy of Errors is at the Underbelly, Bristo Square, Ermintude (Venue 302) 12.30, August 1-14. For more information and tickets click here.