Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors is an early work. It's described as one his most farcical comedies, with slapstick, mistaken identity, and wordplay. For some, there's an additional attraction: It's his shortest play.
The Comedy of Errors opens at the Indiana Festival Theatre, with a preview on Wednesday, August 13. It plays over the weekend and then alternates in repertory with Eugene O'Neill's only comedy, Ah, Wilderness!
IU department chairman and artistic director of the Indiana Festival Theatre, Jonathan Michaels, talked about the pluses and demands of repertory theatre. "It's great training for actors. They're playing roles in two very different shows that alternate from day to day. In fact there are a couple of times when they play The Comedy of Errors in the afternoon and Ah, Wilderness! in the evening. It really challenges their focus, and their ability to juggle roles."
"The technical crews are also challenged. On some days they have just an hour and a half to completely change the Wells-Metz Theatre from one show to another. The furniture and the set pieces are all changed. There are changes to the lighting and sound changes as well. It's a tough job and especially good training for the students involved."
IU grad student Molly Casey plays the wife of one of the two pairs of twins in The Comedy of Errors. "I didn't really know this part before I started my research. Adriana is not a Desdemona or a Portia, but she's a very juicy role. She mistakes the wrong twin for her husband, and comedy ensues."
Michaelsen describes his mixed cast of students and professionals as "good comedians who are also physically adept." On the topic of the physical, Casey commented that "there are a couple of fights, and the women don't really get involved in them." But, she quickly adds, "communicating Shakespeare takes the whole body." Michaelson agrees: "I do pretty much have everyone running around in some of the scenes."