PROVO — Here’s the first thing I’ll say about the show: it had style. Not only that, but it was dripping with style.
The Comedy of Errors is William Shakespeare‘s shortest play, full of repartee and mistaken identity. Two sets of twins, men both named Antipholus and servants both named Dromio, were separated from their parents and from each other while babies. One Antipholus and one Dromio ended up in the country of Syracuse and the other Antipholus and other Dromio ended up in Ephesus. Years go by; the twins grow up. As the story begins, the Syracusian set has ventured to Ephesus in search of the separated family members. Cue mistaken identity, confusion, and hilarity.
The star of the show, as you might guess, was the swinging ’60s vibe. Director and choreographer Andrea Gunoe took a unique approach to her show—or at least one that is rarely seen in Utah Valley. Instead of simply blocking her scenes, she choreographed them. Every moment and movement was specifically planned to convey meaning and project characterization. Each character had a specific style of movement and carried it throughout the show. This doesn’t mean that everyone danced the entire show; I wouldn’t call the majority of the movement “dancing,” actually. Rather poses and movement patterns created distinct characters. My only criticism to the movement was that at times it overpowered the words and left a confused, but entertained, audience. The opening scene especially was a feast for the eyes, but rather overwhelming for the ears with so much music and fast, complicated exposition.
The Comedy of Errors was chock full of memorable characters. Christian Cragun and Cameron Asay gave excellent performances as the brothers Antipholus, as did Brittany Stahly and Ronnie Stringfellow as the Dromios. I loved the differences and similarities they brought to their characters, and Gunoe had her work cut out for her in casting the pairs. While they definitely weren’t identical, each pairs’ physical similarities were enough that the audience could believe they were twins who could be mistaken for the other. Cragun and Asay were by far my favorite people to watch onstage though; they were so interesting and dynamic. Bravo to both.
I also must mention the performance of Andy Foree who played Egeon, the father of the Antipholuses. Although his part was smaller and time onstage limited, Foree created a memorable and lovable character I was always rooting for. Joseph Skousen as the goldsmith and Stephen Geis as the Duke also created some great characters. All around, the cast was solid. The chorus was made up of five girls in ’60s dresses and neon wigs, and while I loved what was trying to happen with the chorus, the performers could have used a little more polishing in their movement and unity. Nonetheless, I loved what they brought to the story. It was a perfect way to integrate a classic ensemble into the show.
I’d also like to commend the scenic designer, assumedly Gunoe, with consulting from Carter Thompson. The space was used very well; I especially enjoyed the wall of ornaments and the ways it enhanced the story. But most of all, I loved seeing the Margetts Theater doused in disco light. What a treat. Janell Turley did a fabulous job as makeup designer, creating perfect ’60s hair and bringing bright colors to the cast with stylized makeup. When the show began, it was the design aspects that make me feel like I was watching a movie straight out of the ’60s. The designers understood the era and embraced its style, and it made for a truly cohesive world.
Congratulations to all involved in The Comedy of Errors on a succesful show. I wish I could encourage people to catch more performances, but alas the production only ran for three nights and has since closed. At the very least, we can all be glad to know that innovative, thoughtful theater is happening at BYU and in Utah County.