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The Comedy of Errors - Mercury Theatre, Colchester

Photographer: Pamela Raith

What a blast!!! What a way to celebrate the 50th Birthday of the Mercury Theatre. This is one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays telling the tale of two sets of twins separated at birth and the chaos and mayhem that happens when the Syracuse Master and Servant travel around Ephesus and are wrongly mistaken for their Ephesus counterparts, a series of wild and farcical mishaps that lead to various arguments, fights, seductions and accusations of theft and madness from mistaken identities and farce styled comedy. The physical acting in this particular production was superb with lots of slapstick humour.

This was such a strong cast of actor/musicians, led by real life twins Danielle Bird and Nichole Bird as Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus respectively. Both these ladies levels of energy were equally matched by their talent. It was non-stop comedy with great facial expressions and huge physical performances.

The other set of twins, Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus were played by Daniel Burke ad Mike Slader respectively. Both of these worked so well with their own Dromios, with good stage presence and command and buckets of humour. I particularly liked the work between Daniel Burke and Rosalind Ford as his brother’s wife when the confused pair meet. The remaining cast covered multiple roles, Lucy Keirl as Luciana and Nestor, Jessica Dives as Emilia and Nell, Aaliyah Zhane as The Duke and Calypso and Michael Lambourne as Eegon, Angelo and Dr Pinch. I particularly liked Michael in all these roles. There was also a small ensemble of Amy Bennett, Lucie Henderson and Sophie Parton who added to the whole with energetic dance routines, slick scene changes and support for the rest of the cast.

The Set as always, was superb, with different levels and doors which are an integral part of any farce, excellent use of the upper area with a swing and a whole auditorium chase to distract from the movement of a large section of the stage to make the Abbey.

The musical support and choice of songs fitted so well with the whole production, however when the band was in full swing the sound wasn’t balanced so we struggled to hear the solo vocalists clearly.

Ryan McBryde gave us some genius touches with a hilarious strobe section on luggage carts, some perfectly timed crossover sequences and some brilliant chase sections all adding to a raucous and fast paced production. He must be exceptionally happy not only with the production as a whole but with the audience reaction which showed just how much we value the Mercury theatre and its plays.

Whilst leaving tonight I overhear a group of ladies commenting on the show saying how much fun the cast must have had both rehearsing and performing this show and you know they are right. This was rightfully deserving of a standing ovation and not just for this production but the constant standard we see at The Mercury Theatre and of course, because we look forward to the next 50 years.

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