The dancing starts early and keeps on coming in playful Central Park production of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS (photo by Joan Marcus)
Through June 30, free, 8:30
Shakespeare in the Park kicks off its 2013 season — and second half century — with a delightfully fresh and funny production of William Shakespeare’s early play, The Comedy of Errors. Inspired by the ancient Roman comedies of Plautus such as The Menaechmi and Amphitruo, the Bard created a farce built around two pairs of identical twins who are separated shortly after birth during a shipwreck. Egeon (Jonathan Hadary) brings Antipholus (Hamish Linklater) and the servant child Dromio (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) back home to Syracuse, wondering what has become of his wife and the other two boys. Many years later, his search for his family leads him to Ephesus, run by the gangster Duke (Skipp Sudduth), who has a thick Brooklyn accent, and his gun-wielding henchmen. Unbeknownst to Egeon, both sets of twins are soon also in Ephesus, getting mixed up in different pairings, with Antipholus of Ephesus confused by Dromio of Syracuse, thinking it is his Dromio, and vice versa. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse has the hots for Luciana (Heidi Schreck), the sister of Adriana (Emily Bergl), who is married to Antipholus of Ephesus. The mayhem mounts as Angelo the goldsmith (Robert Creighton) makes a necklace for Antipholus of Ephesus, who decides to give it to a local courtesan (De’Adre Aziza) when he thinks his wife is cheating on him.
Antipholus (Hamish Linklater) and Dromio (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) get all mixed up in the Bard’s comedy of mistaken identity (photo by Joan Marcus)
It’s all great fun, set in a 1940s atmosphere with nightclubs, couples swing dancing between scenes, a movie theater (named the Lyceum) that is showing the 1933 Eddie Cantor musical Roman Scandals, and a train station that takes passengers to Ithaca, Utica, Troy, and Schenectady. Shakespeare in the Park veteran Sullivan (Orphans, Glengarry Glen Ross) turns up the slapstick as the gang makes its merry way to an immensely satisfying conclusion. The excellent cast is led by a standout performance from three-time Emmy nominee Ferguson (Modern Family), who has a ball running around as the two Dromios, along with Sudduth doing double duty as Dromio of Ephesus’s oversized wife, Linklater (Seminar, The School for Lies) playing two very different Antipholuses, and Harady telling the story of his search using a magical suitcase. The lighthearted romp, which continues at the Delacorte through June 30, also features original music by Greg Pliska, choreography by Mimi Lieber, and scenic design by John Lee Beatty; be sure to get there a little early, because the dancing starts well before showtime (8:30), setting the proper mood for the festivities. Don’t forget that in addition to waiting on line at the Delacorte to get free tickets, you can also enter the daily virtual ticketing lottery online here.