by Shannon Friday
Comedy of Errors is bursting with big offers. Somebody is always doing something, from drawing an invisible sword to magically producing hot peppers from a man's chest. It's a savvy way of sidestepping the script's dense verse and sometimes problematic humor, which includes fat jokes, physical beatings, and that old side-splitter child slavery. When the jokes back up the action, Comedy of Errors is bloody masterful, such as a running montage, in which cast members struggle to create the passing cityscape as the lead character Antipholus runs by.
Sometimes the stage business comes at the expense of pacing. If a bit is rewarding to perform it gets time, regardless of how it feeds the larger action. Just as most farces would be accelerating into the confusion, Comedy of Errors stops dead for an extended set piece about a magician. The actors relish every movement and reaction, creating an entertaining routine that looks like a lot of fun to do. But at this point in the show, with so many characters moving on multiple collision courses, I want to see what happens when they crash more than I want to marvel at the show’s ingenuity. Comedy of Errors is confident and clever, sometimes almost too much so, even as it joyfully places its inventiveness front and centre.