A reviews round-up for Globe Associate Artistic Director Sean Holmes’ new production of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Shakespeare’s comedy about long-lost siblings and mistaken identities is running at Shakespeare’s Globe until 29 July 2023.
The Comedy of Errors stars Claire Benedict as Abbess, Matthew Broome as Antipholus of Ephesus, Philip Cumbus as Duke / Pinch, Michael Elcock as Antipholus of Syracuse, George Fouracres as Dromio of Ephesus, Laura Hanna as Adriana, Hari MacKinnon as Angelo, Jordan Metcalfe as Dromio of Syracuse, Phoebe Naughton as Courtesan / First Merchant / Balthazar, Danielle Phillips as Luce / Second Merchant / Messenger, Paul Rider as Egeon, and Jessica Whitehurst as Luciana.
The creative team also includes: Associate Director Naeem Hayat ; Composer Grant Olding; Costume Supervisors Megan Cassidy and Jackie Orton; Designer Paul Wills; Fight Director Maisie Carter; Movement – Glynn MacDonald; Movement Director Tamsin Hurtado Clarke; Text – Simon Trinder; Casting – Becky Paris; and Voice – Gary Horner.
Read reviews from the Guardian, Stage, Times and more.
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The Comedy of Errors reviews
"Full of wit and pizazz"
"Amped-up visual gags and a cast that brings its own distinctive comic gifts to the Bard’s dialogue ensure a contemporary feel to the classic comedy"
"Sean Holmes is associate artistic director at the Globe and there’s a lightness and ease about his Shakespeare productions that’s not to be scoffed at."
"The props and costumes here, wittily designed by Paul Wills, have just the right amount of pizazz to raise a chuckle (who knew a gold chain could be genuinely funny?)."
"The context remains relatively untouched yet the show feels contemporary – largely down to a sort of droll knowingness that runs through the ensemble"
"The only thing missing is just a little stillness. Some time to sit with Shakespeare’s language. These snatched moments lie almost solely with Paul Rider’s Egeon."
"Shakespeare’s eccentric romp gets a glorious makeover"
"This early comedy is too often disregarded, but Sean Holmes's splendid production at the Globe proves that it should be taken more seriously"
"... The Comedy of Errors can be rip-roaring fun and that is the case with Sean Holmes’s lively, fast-paced production."
"Holmes brings a stark visual reality to the morbid opening... Still, this bleakness is almost immediately undercut by Philip Cumbus’s comic delivery as the Duke, and here lies the very slight problem with the production – a jarring of tone as Holmes oscillates between comedy and tragedy."
"In terms of the casting, Jordan Metcalfe and George Fouracres are glorious fun as the Dromios, excelling at making every joke count and exploiting the bawdy puns with gusto."
"Daft, bawdy and boisterous with magnificent codpieces"
"Amid all the nonsense, you find yourself falling for the idiots in one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays"
"Sean Holmes, associate artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe, hasn’t done much to tinker with The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest and shortest plays. Instead he tunes into the silliness, and turns it up as far as it can go."
"It’s so funny precisely because Holmes takes the text seriously. His excellent ensemble, featuring a few Globe newcomers alongside more practised hands, deliver a fantastically clear, zippy production as they don moustaches and dresses and get increasingly, hilariously annoyed at each other."
"Under the nonsense, a glimpse of realism"
"Confusion reigns supreme in Sean Holmes’s brisk, boisterous staging of Shakespeare’s frantic farce focused on two sets of long-lost identical twins. Some of the delivery, verbal and physical, is overpitched. The cast, however, are avid to entertain us while plunging into the ridiculous spins of a plot that takes in mistaken identity galore, plus potential adultery, assumed theft and satanic possession."
"Holmes steers the layered contrivances with a mostly steady hand."
"There is also considerable skill in the performances, especially by the four leads: Michael Elcock and Matthew Broome as the Antipholus twins, and Jordan Metcalfe and George Fouracres as the two Dromios."
"Frenetic and unapologetically shallow”"
"Breezy and accessible take on Shakespeare’s classic farce of mischance and mistaken identity"
"Bursting with exuberant energy, this frenetic version of Shakespeare’s most contrived comedy is accessible, often uproarious and unapologetically shallow. Helmed by Globe associate artistic director Sean Holmes, the production rattles through the twisty plot at a breakneck pace, relying on momentum and slapstick set pieces to carry the audience along."
"Characterisation is kept to a minimum, with Holmes opting instead to set a flippant, cartoonish tone. Scenes that can often feel sharply uncomfortable for contemporary audiences – the frequent physical abuse meted out to servants, or Dromio’s body-shaming diatribe aimed at kitchen porter Luce – are handled here with such a light touch that they lose much of their sting."
"George Fouracres and Jordan Metcalfe capably carry much of the show’s comedy as the two Dromios, by turns servile and surly, desperate to please but strong enough to stand up to their masters when either of them is pushed too far."
"Globe deputy Sean Holmes offers a lean, thoughtful, funny take on Shakespeare’s dumbest comedy"
"‘The Comedy’ is so fundamentally lacking in emotional weight that modern directors have a tendency to really overwork the physical business when staging it... Sean Holmes’s deft Globe production steers an almost effortless path through it, however. It’s less conceptual than some of his shows at the iconic theatre"
"Breezing in at an hour and 45 minutes with no interval, it’s an uncluttered production that avoids gimmickry."
"Mostly I think Holmes has identified the fact that overegging ‘The Comedy of Errors’ makes it harder to digest, not easier, and that with it comes to making it a genuine comedy, less is more."
"Verdict: Twin Peaks"
"Shakespeare's first — and shortest — comedy can, in the wrong hands, sometimes feel misnamed. But Sean Holmes's new production more than lives up to its title."
"The four leads are captivating: Mr Elcock becomes ever more exasperated as people previously unknown to him accost him; Matthew Broome is terrific as the full-of-himself Antipholus of Ephesus; while Jordan Metcalfe and George Fouracres steal the show as the two Dromios."
"The only misstep is the lengthy slapstick fight scene cum stage chase, which feels as though it has arrived from another production altogether."
"Daft farce haunted by shadows"
"The Globe takes on a nautical flair for Sean Holmes’s highly enjoyable staging of The Comedy of Errors."
"There are lovely performances from Matthew Broome as Antipholus of Ephesus, increasingly dismayed as he is barred from his own home as an imposter, and Michael Elcock as Antipholus of Syracuse, bewitched and bewildered in equal measure by his reception."
"But absurd as it all is, this early comedy foreshadows Shakespeare’s later masterpieces about family separation and reconciliation. There’s the unnerving — and all too contemporary — fear of losing your identity and, while not foregrounding them, Holmes doesn’t neglect the cruelties running through the play. As with many a Shakespearean ending, the poignant final reunion leaves questions hanging in the air."
Shakespeare's Globe, London