All mixed up

The Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Lisa Juliano
Theater 1010
1010 Park Avenue (288-3246 x 3)
Equity showcase (closes Nov. 14)
Review by Julie Halpern

Theater 1010's production of The Comedy of Errors is a light-hearted trip through the time tunnel, to television sitcom land circa 1968. Pre-show tunes by The Electric Prunes, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Jefferson Airplane evoke memories of love-ins and rock festivals past, as brightly attired flower children take the stage. Plug in the Lava Lite, roll a joint, and prepare for an evening of fast-paced fun.

Based on Plautus's Menaechmi, Shakespeare's tale of mistaken identity takes us through the trials and tribulations of the identical Antipholuses (Syracuse and Ephesus, who were separated in infancy) as they woo, wheel, and deal with the citizens of Ephesus. The first situation they encounter is Antipholus of Ephesus's wife Adriana's frustration when Antipholus of Syracuse rejects her, and her sister Luciana's rejection of his advances, thinking he's her brother -in-law. Various business deals also wreak havoc, but eventually the twins are reunited with their parents, Antipholus of Ephesus wins Adriana back and Luciana and Antipholus of Syracuse fall in love.

Dan Nichols's psychedelic set and Allen Hale's bright costumes added to the festivities, and Izzy Einsidler's flattering lighting worked well, but the various colored lighting effects many of us remember from the '60s were conspicuous in their absence.

Judith Jarosz was a marvelously earthy and passionate Adriana. Laura Standley was a brilliant foil as the gentle, practical Luciana. Patrick Dizney (Antipholus of Ephesus), and Tom Kulesa (Antipholus ofSyracuse) were handsome, befuddled presences, and winning physical comedians. Brian N. Taylor (Dromio of Ephesus) and Mara Rixton (Dromio of Syracuse) had the funniest moments of the evening. Maura Kelley created five delightful comic gems in various small roles, and was particularly uproarious as the guru-sorceror Pinch. Mark Hatton was a sensitive and sympathetic Egeon, and Denise Allesandria Hurd contributed a spirited comic turn as the Abbess, who is actually Egeon's long-lost wife and the Antipholuses' mother. Lynn Marie Macy's decadent martini-drinking Solinus was a delight, worthy of Absolutely Fabulous, but lovely Barbara Brandt's Borscht-Belt Angelo jarred with the rest of the ensemble. Elliott George Robinson turned in exceptional performances in his five small roles. Jacqueline Gregg sang and moved beautifully as the elegant Courtesan.

This Comedy achieved excellent results with non-traditional casting and a bit of gender-bending. Director Lisa Juliano is to be commended on her choices, but since the production was set in the groovy '60s on TV this type of casting would unfortunately never have happened. As a result, Juliano's attempt to create a warm and fuzzy view of the period struck a false note.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 Julie Halpern