Theatre review: Comedy of Errors

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If Shakespeare in an outdoor setting sounds a little heavy going for you, think again.

It’s Shakespeare all right, but not as you know it, and the outdoor setting is in fact a comfortable covered arena in the grounds of Tolethorpe Hall, the home of Stamford Shakespeare Company.

The company performs two plays from Shakespeare each season, and this year it is the turn of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Comedy of Errors, the one we saw on Saturday.

The style on a warm summer evening is to picnic on the lawn before the performance: it was chilly so we took our picnic into the indoor area provided and enjoyed it with wine from the bar. There is also a restaurant on site.

A Comedy of Errors is the inherently confusing story of two sets of identical twins separated by shipwreck and their comical reunion.

The plot was made even funnier with Stamford Shakespeare Company’s version of Charlston-meets-slapstick-meets-Shakespeare, with every opportunity for comedy mined to full effect.

The action took place against the fabulous art deco setting of the bar at the Ephesus Grand Hotel, with flappers in wonderful costumes adding an element of glamour and fun. More hilarious still was Nell, wife of Dromio of Ephesus, whose appearance on her occasional forays into the bar in pursuit of her husband were enough to provoke laughter.

However, there were lots of priceless moments of humour throughout, all done with perfect timing, and the cast received the appreciation of the audience in warm laughter and applause.

An open air arena may not be quite as comfortable as theatre-goers are used to, but take blankets and cushions, as we did, and when the performance is this good, who really cares?

Had the cast come back on stage for a bow I feel sure they would have heard just how impressed we were.