.Big Easy ‘Errors’: Shakespeare set in N’awlins

North Bay fans of Shakespeare “under the sun” have at least four options this summer, including two—count ’em—two different productions of Twelfth Night going up in Marin.

Sonoma County’s entry in this summer Shakespeare “fest” is The Comedy of Errors. Healdsburg’s Raven Players return to West Plaza Park with a production running through Aug. 12.

Shakespeare purists beware as director Steven David Martin transplants the setting from ancient Greece to modern-day New Orleans, where the antics of two—count ’em—two sets of twins, originally separated by shipwreck (of course), lead to accusations of theft, infidelity and demonic possession.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

Ageon Jones (Dan Stryker) arrives in New Orleans, where he is promptly arrested and sentenced to death for trespassing. He explains to a wealthy Duke (Ron Smith) that he has entered the forbidden city in search of his child and servant, who were separated from their respective twins and Ageon’s wife in a shipwreck and who themselves have come to New Orleans in search of their siblings.

Antiphola of Syracuse (Monique Scott) and her servant, Dromia of Syracuse (Katie Watts-Whitaker), soon find themselves mistaken for Antiphola of New Orleans (Heather Berger) and Dromia of New Orleans (Mary Watts-Sparks). Confusion abounds as a pair of brothers (Matt Farrell, Declan Hackett), a goldsmith (Bohn Connor) and a courtesan (Troy Thomas Evans) engage with the pairs, often confusing one set for the other. Leave it up to a witch doctor (Nicholas Augusta) and a cat o’nine tails-wielding Abbess (Tika Moon) to set everyone straight.

A kitchen sink is all that is missing from director Martin’s take on the Shakespeare comedy. One doesn’t usually see references to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Wizard of Oz and Barbie (!) folded into a Shakespeare show or hip-hop and rap lyrics worked into the dialogue, but there you have it. It’s a silly show, but that is the intention here, so you wind up smiling and laughing with it and not at it. The cast is obviously having fun, and that sense of fun permeated the audience.

The setting allows for some great costuming by Jeanine Gray, and the set by Julie Raven-Smart nicely facilitates the door slamming inherent in a classic farce.

Grab a chair and a blanket (it can get chilly when the sun goes down), pack a picnic and some beverages, and head to West Plaza Park for a couple of hours of silly summertime diversion.

Heads up. Watch out for flying beads.

‘The Comedy of Errors’ runs through Aug. 12 at West Plaza Park, 10 North St., Healdsburg. Thurs–Sat, 7:30 pm. Free. 707.433.6335 raventheater.org.

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