Friday, April 27, 2012

A Very '60s Comedy of Errors

Mad Men Meets Shakespeare at Marquette

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Marquette University Theatre brings Shakespearian wit of mistaken identity into the 1960s as it stages its production of The Comedy of Errors. Shakespeare's Ephesus becomes a sort of middle eastern town via a series of banners and cubes. Adriana Saia's cleverly simple set design's  clean lines may feel very '60s, but in places they make the whole production feel a bit like something on a grade school stage. Connie Petersen's stylish '60s period costuming keeps this from being a serious issue. 

 

The LBJ-era feel of the production extends into the staging of the play, which feels very much like a TV sitcom of the era. Lanky Tim Braun delivers comedy like he's Dick York with a laugh track. He's got good instincts for that kind of kitschy comic delivery, which firmly establishes the period feel of the production. In an interesting choice in casting on the part of director Maureen Kilmurry, Braun plays both Antipholus of Syracuse AND Antipholus of Ephesus.  Doug Soder also plays both Dromios. The few shared scenes are handled in an interesting way the gets positively surreal in the big finale.   And thanks to a generous number of roles for a relatively small cast, everyone comes across bit mad in the end. 

 

The most interesting pairing in a single actor has to be that of Kelsey Lauren. She gets to play opposites in both the courtesan and the abbess. She has a very whimsical sense of exaggeration about both of the roles that finds room for some cleverly subtle bits of comic punctuation. Her appearance here was one of several charming highlights in the production. 

 

Marquette University Theatre's production of The Comedy of Errors runs through April 29th at the Helfaer Theatre. for ticket reservations, call 414-288-7504. 

 

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