Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte in Central Park is always delightfully delicious. Sitting under the stars in the great outdoors has got to be one of the most scintillating experiences a theatre-goer can have.
Now take a silly cartoon-like comedy of mistaken identity and try to give it a slick interpretation and what have you got? – – Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Hamish Linklater doing double duty in their dual roles as identical twins, separated as children in a storm, washing up on shore in the Mediterranean. Ferguson plays the larger than life mischievous Dromio of Syracuse, the servant, and of Ephesus (the brother/servant). Linklater is the ya gotta have a gimmick fast talking nobleman Antipholus, suave and charming. They are the meat and potatoes in this adventurous nonsense that does lead to many a laugh, even though it’s a one-note samba.
Now move this entire scenario to the era of the 1940s, with a dems and does flavor (think Sopranos) especially The Duke, played by the large comedic Skipp Sudduth, and his henchmen (fedoras and Mafia style suits), and you’ve got a Keystone Cops variety of mania running loose on stage. It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world out there! And one of the best parts is the slick swing dancers (Mimi Lieber, choreographer) hanging out near their old-fashioned jukebox. These supple dancers come and go throughout the 90 minutes of madness, shaking their bodies to “Sing, Sing” and more.
And, yes, Siracusa, Italy is suddenly transformed into that grand old New York Shakespearean city of Syracuse!
Outstanding is Emily Bergl as the yowling Adriana, slut of a wife to Antipholus, who is fooling around with, to name one, the glorious voiced Courtesan (De’ Adre Aziza) as she does a terrific rendition of “Sigh No More.” Jonathan Hadary plays Egeon, a merchant, as well as Pinch, a doctor with his usual aplomb. The tough-talking, rifle toting Abbess is played by Becky Ann Baker. Notable is Heidi Schreck as Luciana, sister to Adriana.
The cartoon-like scenic design by John Lee Beatty features three revolving double-decker buildings as they go from hotel to a theatre to a bath-house, a burlesque and even a convent. Toni-Leslie James is the costumer who had the fun of creating the 40s styles. Jeff Croiter lit the stage and the cast.
What’s a director like Daniel Sullivan to do? Have the time of his life Bard-Mafia style!
The Comedy of Errors continues through June 30th at the Delacorte.