Persever Productions have teamed up with students of The Drama Studio London to bring Shakespeare into the park, and I was happy to go local to review it.
A Comedy of Errors is a farcical play set in the Greek city of Ephesus, when an old man from Syracuse finds hinself under sentence of death for entering the city. He is searching for the son he lost in a shipwreck when they were small.
Two men called Antipholus who look alike; ditto their respective servants, two Dromios. Despite us ckearly seeing the difference between them, friends and family alike, and the four men themselves, constantly slip up with increasingly frentic results.
The park, set at the back of Pitshanger Manor, is a great location for this truncated tale, which reduces proceedings to just one hour. All the key players are here from the Goldsmith and Dr Pinch to the Duke and Mother Abbess.
Entrances and exits make the most of the natural staging – a large tree sits centre and acts as both the locked door to the house of Antipholus of Ephesus and “some priory” where all is resolved to the satisfaction of both characters and audience.
Charlie Barker directs a cast of eleven in this resolutely family-friendly piece, designed by Emily Barker. Splashes of colour decorate foliage; props are used sparingly but each pushes the plot on.
The Antipholus pair are both played well, with Ephesus (,Jacob Kay) and Syracuse (Charlie Sheepshanks) both capturing the physical absurdity of the role. Emily Friesen (Syracuse) and Katrina Michaels are effective clowns as the Dromios and quite touching in their final scene.
Elsewhere, Sophie Wynn-Jones is fun as Adriana and Max Jukes is a pleasingly fey Angelo the goldsmith. All the cast are very good, though, and easily heard against the bustle and chatter of a busy summer afternoon.
A Comedy of Errors plays again in Walpole Park, Ealing, at 2pm and 5pm on 27-29 August – purchase your tickets here or on the day.