The Comedy of Errors is perhaps Shakespeare’s least complex play since the language is plain, but it can be confusing with all the mix-ups of characters. However, Shakespeare Orange County’s production of The Comedy of Errors directed by Alyssa Bradac is easy to follow, with its fast-paced and lively interpretation. The play calls for beatings by Antipholus S. upon both Dromios. Is this going to be a light and funny production or a sick and twisted sense of humor? This production turns out to be light and funny (with some sexual innuendo) and is very entertaining. Director Bradac collaborates with the actors to decide how to interpret the text, which lends the production a creative atmosphere.
Shaun Anthony (Antipholus S.) and Anika Habermas-Scher (Dromio S.) cannot be missed with their overly colorful outfits in yellows and blues and stripes. Shaun Anthony is a sane Antipholus in a town of witches. One of the witty parts of the play goes well for Anthony and Habermas-Scher as the two discuss how a bald man comes to be witty. Habermas-Scher is a willing clown as she looks to the audience using her expressions and body and nasally voice to get laughs. Her physical comedy is enjoyed by the audience as she exaggerates dismounting her imaginary horse; swing her leg high with her petite frame.
With Dromio S. gone, Joshua Snyder (Dromio E.) appears. He has the same sort of goofy costume with curly hair and propeller inspired hat as the other Dromio. Snyder is confused by Antipholus S. and each time he returns tries to explain the sense of it all by slowly and clearly saying each word as if talking to a foreigner--another audience favorite.
Jeremy Schaeg (Antipholus E.) is a drunkard and finds other company since his wife won’t let him inside his house due to identity confusion. Amber Starr Friendly (Adriana) is a loving and stylish wife, and she delivers her lines well with phrasing that adds clarity and humor. Friendly’s interpretation adds sexual innuendo to lines that describe Antipholus’ deformed body. Stephanie Robinson (Luciana) is a willing side-kick as she makes sounds and expressive faces in agreement with her sister.
Though Pinch has few lines he has a memorable part as a voodoo doctor. Luciana brings Michael Drace Fountain (Dr. Pinch) to cure her husband. Fountain’s face is painted as a skull with a dread-lock wig, striped red pants and bones hanging from his waist. As the medicine man, Fountain moves his lips quickly, he chants and moves toward Schaeg (Antipholus E.) to take Schaeg’s pulse and Schaeg hits him. As Fountain says “I charge thee, Satan…” Friendly (Adriana), Stephanie Robinson (Luciana) and the cast lean in and repeat “Satan!” in a congregational Baptist style and continue to do so three more times with the last word of each meter.
Fountain is also the Scenic Designer, creating clever openings that allow for comical moments. Antipholus. E. and Dromio E. knock on the door to the house and a smaller door hits Dromio E. in the face a few times. Then Jessy Bremner (Luce), the servant, opens the bottom opening, hitting Dromio E. from below. Stage left is another door that leads to a courtesan, Malia Wright, in a sexy prostitute New Orleans inspired costume. Upstage are pocket doors leading to the Abbess that provide a grand exit and entrance for the nuns Evelyn Carol Case (Aemilia) and Chelsea Pearson.
Case and Pearson begin the show by entering through the audience in what sets the tone by costume designer, Katie Wilson. Chelsea Pearson, a novice nun, wears a navy habit, navy sleeveless top, pleated, navy, school girl skirt, black grommet belt hanging from her hips, pilot sunglasses, and ankle combat boots with num-chucks in hand to enforce Evelyn Carol Cases’, Aemilia, The Abbess of Ephesus, who is in a white flying habit and white robe. The rest of the costumes are clashing in reflection of Fountain’s pink sponge painted walls. Friendly (Adriana) wears a purple feathery hat, a hugging purple taffeta dress with purple lace and a black lace cuffed, red damask jacket and black laced boots that clashes with Robinson’s (Luciana) yellow lace and pink ribbon dress with maroon lace bodice and puff bottom with lavender crinoline peaking out the bottom. Robinson’s black bob adds edge to her peaches and cream complexion and feminine style.
Original music by William and Jennifer Georges plays between scenes in country to rock styles adding to the satirical mood. Robinson (Luciana) leaves Anthony (Antipholus. S.) in bliss, romantic R & B music reminiscent of the 70s plays, while he moves slowly, curling into himself, smiling with thoughts of love.
This production of The Comedy of Errors is lively and colorful, not expected in Garden Grove, which isn’t the first place to think about when it comes to Shakespeare or entertainment. The Festival Amphitheatre has easy access with close, flat parking in this newly renovated downtown area in a town near Disneyland where nightly fireworks can be heard. In this pleasant setting, jeans-will-do attire, Shakespeare Orange County fills a niche much needed in North Orange County.