on the soundtrack, and the Rose's already limited acting space
half-filled with battered trunks and suitcases. Who was F J G GILL,
and what would he think to see his luggage gracing the ancient boards
of Bankside's earliest playhouse ? The boxes and the other baggage
are creatively used here, setting scenes and concealing characters.
Groundlings are based in Portsmouth – they offer training as well
as producing their own shows. This pocket-sized comedy was first seen
in their own heritage theatre near Gunwharf Quays. Six actors, eighty
minutes, and a hectic canter through the comedy from the sea voyage
to the farcical finale, where audience members are pressed into
performing as the alter egos of Antipholus and his “man” Dromio.
Stride's production has many happy moments amongst the box shifting:
Mark Flynn's callow Antipholus doting on Emma Uden's bespectacled,
russet-haired Luciana, the Dromios farting at the door, and the
puppets-in-a-box for the Abbess and Egeon [Stuart Frank, who also
gives us a memorable courtesan, and Oliver Gyani who makes a nicely
anxious Goldsmith and an imposing Dr Pinch, with his phial sloshing
ominously]. Anna Mallard, with huge hair, paces impatiently and
speaks the verse impeccably.
old Dromio bears the brunt of the mistaken identities as man and
master “wander in illusion”. He's played in a green roly-poly
suit by Helen Oakleigh – an excellent match, you'd think, for the
greasy kitchen wench. Bags of energy, if too much on the same note
for my taste.
is reduced Shakespeare, of course, and works well in this largely
traditional take, with its Elizabethan costumes and period music. The
wordy dénouement could perhaps have been trimmed further, bringing
us a little earlier to the lively jig.
Comedy of Errors plays until July 27, in tandem with the Groundlings'
Henry V: Oakleigh directs this time, with Stride as the hero of