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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

'Bomb-itty of Errors': The Rep's Comedy of Rap

Theater Review

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The Milwaukee Rep's clever, fast-paced and funny Bomb-itty of Errors (through May 8 at Stackner Cabaret) is a sure cure for Milwaukee's early spring doldrums. Loosely based on Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, it is a laugh riot from beginning to end. Imagine Shakespeare's play reinterpreted by Eminem, Jay-Z and the writers for "Saturday Night Live." No wonder Bomb-itty opens with the phrase, "Welcome to the party." And what a party it is. (For the un-hip among us, the term "bomb"—in today's lingo—means something is particularly good.)

The show is tailor-made for trendy 20-somethings. But even older audiences (clueless about references to rap) will find more than enough humor to make this an entertaining evening.

Nearly all of Bomb-itty is told in rhyming rap lyrics. As in the original story, the show focuses on two sets of identical twin brothers. The quadruplets were split up soon after birth. Each set of twins has one brother named Antipholus and one named Dromio. Hilarity ensues when one pair of brothers unknowingly travels to the city where the other brothers live. Confusion and merry mix-ups ensue.

The show, brilliantly written by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Gregory Qaiyum, and Erik Weiner, sets the story in a tough, modern world of drug dealers, guns and gangstas. The set reinforces this vision with brick walls decorated with gang graffiti. In an offstage sound booth, DJ Mark Valenzuela provides much more than background music. Onstage, four actors play all the roles, which not only include the brothers but also a Jewish jewelry dealer, a prostitute, a Rastafarian medicine man and one brother's wife and sister-in-law.

Director Megan Nicole O'Brien takes the parody one step further by sneaking in some Milwaukee icons. She creates a seamless production that gives Shakespeare a new dimension. The four actors have many opportunities to show off their singing and dancing talent, not to mention their flair for comedy. It's nice to see actor Wayne T. Carr back on a local stage again. The other three are newcomers: Justin Jain, Michael Philip O'Brien and Steve Pacek.
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