Beach House Theatre's production of The Comedy of Errors

REVIEW: Comedy of Errors a ‘light and lively’ show

Beach House Theatre returned to South Surrey's Crescent Beach for a third successful year

Beach House Theatre’s third season main production was, happily, much more comedy than error, bringing Shakespeare to Crescent Beach for another short summer season.

The Bard’s The Comedy of Errors (Aug. 12-17) offered continuing proof that Beach House’s minor miracle – creating convincing theatre in the company’s temporary tent auditorium on Blackie Spit – is not a fluke or a hallucination.

A lot of very hard work, starting with community fundraising by volunteers and the Beach House board and extending to all the actors and technical staff, went into this year’s production, co-helmed by artistic directors Candace Radcliffe and Rick Harmon.

By all accounts, the daytime, family-oriented production of the Three Munschketeers, featuring Matt Falletta, Courtney Shields and Meghan Somerville, and directed by Ian Harmon, was also a credit to the organization.

Sold-out performances prove that, once again, Beach House managed to bring in locals – some of whom might never have otherwise attended a Shakespeare play – to experience the immediacy of live theatre.

Radcliffe and Harmon and their dedicated cast and crew are to be congratulated for making The Comedy of Errors a light and lively entertainment that clearly engaged its audience and kept them entertained.

But while Beach House’s mandate includes a worthy intention to include trainee actors and community-based players, care should be taken – in future – that this does not result in an inconsistent product for the company’s relatively high ticket price.

While all of the players gave of their best for this show, The Comedy of Errors was a little uneven in casting and playing in a way that Beach House’s grand premiere in 2012, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, was not.

That play, granted, is very different, and much more spectacular in scope. Even accounting for the differences, Comedy of Errors’  paled somewhat in comparison, and the commendable company of supporting players also seemed a little thin on the ground, even though they did their energetic best to embrace the artistic decision to set the play in the Caribbean of 1725.

With due respect to the directors’ vision, while the central conceit was plausible – and undeniably arresting in its musical and dance interludes (particularly in the fine high-stepping of talented Aran Davison) – for this viewer, it never fully integrated with Shakespeare’s text.

Indeed, a barrage of inter-scene calypso music notwithstanding, there were times when we seemed to be watching one entertaining show, which would then be interrupted for another quite different, if equally entertaining, show.

Linda Weston’s costumes, however, were splendid; set designer Breanne Jackson made highly creative use of limited resources and the need for flexibility to support numerous scene changes; and the technical work, under the direction of Geoff McEvoy, and sound work, by Riley Leiper, was exemplary as usual.

The Comedy of Errors – in which a master and servant (slave) from Syracuse are mistaken for their like-named identical twins (also master and servant) in Ephesus is one of Shakespeare’s most farcical and far-fetched creations.

Most of all, it depends for many of its laughs on a finely-developed comedy-team rapport between two well-matched actors playing both sets of twins, and well-timed, almost Stooge-like cartoon violence in each master’s slapping and kicking of the hapless servant, as the confusion of identity gathers momentum.

Relative neophyte Aaron Holt (as Antipholus of Ephesus and Antipholus of Syracuse) is clearly a most conscientious, appealing and promising player. It’s unfortunate that he couldn’t help but be overshadowed, in this production, by the befuddled servant-half of the team (Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse), played by one of local theatre’s most skillfully comedic scene-stealers, James Walker.

Walker seemed to understand every nuance of plot and dialogue in this play, bringing a rare relish to Shakespeare’s often crude humour that made it work all the better. It is not unfair to say that much of the burden of this Comedy of Errors rested on Walker’s broad shoulders, and he carried it manfully.

Kudos, in this version, to both directors – and both actors – in creating viable distinctions between each twin that made the plot easier to follow for those unfamiliar with the play.

Olivia Lindgren did excellent work as Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, nicely understanding the exaggeration of the play, but very clear in conveying the range of emotions of a woman whose husband, suddenly and unaccountably, denies their marriage.

Madeleine Tuer also delivered a fine performance as Luciana, having a lot of fun depicting the confusion of a woman whose brother-in-law has suddenly developed a shockingly inappropriate attraction to her.

That agreeable sense of enjoyment was also manifest in the appropriately broad playing of Riaan Smit as the drunken goldsmith Angelo, while Michael Bernard went to town as voodoo spell-caster Dr. Pinch and the ludicrous, conceited second merchant, over-the-top Spanish sibilance and all.

Luke Day offered a well-judged, well-enunciated, thoroughly sympathetic performance as the aged merchant Aegon, condemned to death for violating the ban on trade between Syracuse and Ephesus; the previously-noted Davison was effective as a bemused officer of the law; and Aemelia Ross, as Duchess Solinus, provided contrast as a representative of Ephesus’ humorless authority.

Krystle Hadlow, as the courtesan; Emily Brown, as the first merchant and messenger; Dianna Harvey, as Luce; Roger Hussen and Cassidy Johnson, as villagers; and Heather Harris, as the Abbess, all had their individual moments, as well as good teamwork in creating a small, but versatile, ensemble.





Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Horgan lambastes Liberal health record in Surrey

Premier John Horgan was in Surrey this morning to attack Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson’s role in selling a potential hospital site here at a discount

Delta, Metro Vancouver add more than 300 hectares to Burns Bog Conservation Area

Delta Nature Reserve among parcels of land added to conservation area but will remain open to public

‘The fix was in’: BC Liberals in Surrey-White Rock call out own party

Party members say there was no intention to have fair nomination process

COVID-19 exposures at Surrey schools: An updated list

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

First rainstorm of the season pelting the Lower Mainland

Batten down the hatches as heavy rains, wind, and some localized flooding possible

Liberals vow wage-subsidy extension to 2021, revamp of EI system in throne speech

Canadian labour market was hammered by pandemic, when lockdowns in the spring led to a loss of 3 million jobs

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

Abbotsford youth launches mental health awareness page

Abby Senior student Mia Skoone aims to provide information with @mentalhealth4youth account

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP investigating man reportedly hiking nude on Summerland’s Full Frontal trail

Potential charges against the man could include indecent exposure.

Grand jury indicts police officer in Breonna Taylor death

Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment

Most Read