Theater Review: The Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare, Translated by Dori Parnes, Directed by Moshe Kepten, Cameri Theater, Tel Aviv, February 17.

theater review_390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
theater review_390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Definitely eye candy. This production of The Comedy of Errors has everything going for it. Ruth Dar’s wonderful Greek islands set, all white, blue and sunshine; Moni Mednik’s apt leisure-wear costumes; Moshe Kepten’s witty, light-handed direction; lots and lots of laughs; and, above all, Dori Parnes’s translation. Shakespeare’s original abounds in verbal gymnastics, and Parnes has not only done him proud but has shaken a few more saucy rhyme sets from his own sleeve.
The Comedy of Errors is a classical farce with a twist that’s Shakespeare’s own, even though he took the main plot mostly from Plautus’s (254-184 BCE) comedy The Menaechemi. The twist concerns the twins’ father, the Syracusan merchant Egeon (Oded Teomi) who’s been condemned to death by the Duke of Ephesus (Eli Gornstein).
The plot concerns identical twins, both named Antipholus, who get into all kinds of scrapes when each is mistaken for the other, though one comes from Syracuse (Dan Shapira) and one is an Ephesan (Iftach Ophir), as are their bond servants, also identical twins named Dromio (Yaniv Biton and Ido Mosseri).
The put-upon servants are fine. As Syracusan Dromio, Yaniv Biton is mischievous, charming and energetic; but the servant acting honors go to Ido Mosseri, whose equally mischievous etcetera Dromio has also a delicious injured innocence.
It’s with their masters that this Comedy falters. Even in a farce as broad as this, there has to be a presence under all that effervescence, a bit of substance, the idea that both young men have had their pleasant existence kicked out from under them and they want to get it back. Iftach Ophir’s Antipholus is less mannered than Shapira’s and consequently is more persuasive. Dan Shapira needs to learn to keep his hands out of his pockets – certainly when the gesture, as here, doesn’t fit the character. Both are likable in their roles.What neither has is that bit of substance.
Oded Teomi and Kepten are having fun with Egeon – very Shakespearean, that – a character thrown as a sop, as it were, to an old actor, provided he narrates the play. So impish narrator Teomi is pointedly over the top as Egeon. Nadav Assulin’s speech-impeded goldsmith is priceless, and sidekicks Avi Termin and Lior Zohar back him with decorous vulgarity. Michal Bernstein as Adriana and Tal Blankstein as her sister Luciana do a brave best with Shakespeare’s less than immortal lines for these women, and Rona Lee Shimon very surely decorates the stage as the Courtesan.
It’s all beautifully escapist.