The Comedy of Errors by the RSC at the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Sep 26 2021, then touring until Dec 31 2021.
Returning to the thrilling spectacle of live theatre was always going to be a joyful moment for the audience, but what a perfect gift the Royal Shakespeare Company has given us with The Comedy of Errors.
Originally scheduled for 2020, it was, like so much else, shelved. Would a 2020 production, without the devastation of Covid, have elicited such pure delight? Only a time machine could provide the answer. Perhaps we could borrow the one belonging to director Phillip Breen. He surely has such a machine… how else could he have travelled back to the end of the last century, scooped up the very best of British comedy, and plopped it onto the sparse stage of the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre for our belly-jiggling mirth?
The four main players in The Comedy of Errors give us hints of Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson (both The Young Ones and Bottom), Rowan Atkinson’s Mr Bean, John Cleese as Basil Fawlty and a little bit of bumbling, mumbling Hugh Grant. Probably the finest comedy actors of the time, but the comparison is more than fair. Jonathan Broadbent, Greg Haiste, Guy Lewis and Rowan Polonski are all kinds of brilliant as the two sets of separated twins, whose mistaken identities form the backbone of the comedy.
You don’t need to know much more about the plot; despite the farcical blunders, it’s an easy one to follow.
Hedydd Dylan as Adrianna – wife of one of the Antipholus twins – will have many a chap squirming in his seat, such is her unbridled fury at her husband (who isn’t her husband, of course). She’s terrific, as are her and Avita Jay’s on-stage yoga moves. It will all make sense, believe me.
It is an outstanding production and the joy of the cast at being back on the stage is palpable.
With a cappella sounds, costumes straight from the 1980s, and a handful of visual jokes, the sensory impact of The Comedy of Errors is just the tonic after a harsh dose of 2020.
The Comedy of Errors by the RSC at the Lydia & Manfred Gorvy Garden Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until Sep 26 2021. Book tickets here: The Comedy of Errors | Royal Shakespeare Company (rsc.org.uk).