Shakespeare became famous for his ability to make art with words. However, it is how we continue to bring this powerful language to life hundreds of years after the original stories were written that keeps Shakespeare’s name relevant today.
Marquette’s Department of Performing Arts is closing their main stage productions for the season with the Shakespearean classic, “The Comedy of Errors.” But this time, Shakespeare comes with a new twist — this version of “Errors” is set in the 1960s.
For those who don’t remember the Shakespeare unit during sophomore English class in high school (or who slept through it), “The Comedy of Errors” is a long, blunder-filled and amusing journey to find one’s family.
Egeon has been shipwrecked for 24 years, separated from his wife and their twin sons, Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse. Meanwhile, Antipholus of Syracuse searches for his long-lost identical twin brother, while his servant, Dromio, is also searching for his long-lost twin. As the show unfolds, the characters get hilariously entangled in each other’s different investigations and shenanigans.
Shakespeare’s wit and irony can sometimes get lost in the heavy language of his plays, which can make it hard to distinguish comedy from tragedy. However, this is not a problem for “Errors” — the show doesn’t do subtlety. The comedy is highly physical, over-the-top and blissfully ridiculous.
The acting in the show was impressive. Tim Braun, a senior in the College of Communication, plays both Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse, and is particularly funny. His large stage presence and exaggerated facial expressions are never short of entertaining.
Kelsey Lauren, a senior in the College of Communication, plays the Abbess and Courtesan. As the Courtesan, Lauren is tempting and seductive, while also amusingly maniacal.
The Turkish conjurers, played by Kyle Conner, a freshman in the College of Communication, and Ian Burr, a junior in the College of Communication, have smaller parts but are two of the most memorable characters. They are slightly quirky and even a little creepy but hilarious and inquisitive at the same time. Their exaggerated physical movements take over the stage and demand the audience’s attention.
The switch in time period from Shakespearean time to the ’60s is originally confusing because the costumes are the only indication of the show’s more modern setting. However, the second act embraces the new decade by incorporating more of the iconic gimmicks from the ’60s into the show. The actors poke fun at “Charlie’s Angels” and use guns instead of swords, which adds additional laughs.
The show uses very few props and virtually no furniture. The set is made out of wooden blocks, with each side of the block painted to represent a certain room or place. The drawings on the block are simple and cartoonish, effectively embodying the ’60s theme. The actors constantly change the set to fit the scene by moving the blocks around.
Hanging tapestries are also an integral part of the set. In one scene, cutouts of the actors are placed behind a tapestry, creating an interesting formation of shadows. The show’s lighting is also particularly powerful. The Courtesan’s entrance is particularly notable, filled with dramatic, thick smoke and moody lighting.
So take a study break this weekend and celebrate a timeless author by going back in time with Marquette’s Department of Performing Arts.
The show is running April 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. and April 29 at 2:30 p.m.