The Marin Shakespeare Company has a hit on its hands with the original musical adaptation
A Comedy of Errors, by playwright-directors Robert and Lesley Currier. Based on Shakespeare’s rambunctious play (Willy’s version starts with “The” instead of “A”), this adaptation is silly, sexy, fluffy and funny.
The Curriers take the basic plot of the original—along with portions of Shakespeare’s distinctive text—and blend it with wide swaths of fresh dialogue, outrageously tweaked lines and several clever new songs by Leslie Harib, which are employed to replace some of the Bard’s complexly textured exposition and labyrinthine proclamations.
Running in repertory with Shakespeare’s dark romantic comedy All’s Well That Ends Well, the musical version of Errors takes the action originally set in the ancient town of Ephesus and moves it to Texas, transforming the characters into cowboys, rodeo clowns, gun-slinging sheriffs, Wild West madams, Jewish-Indian medicine men and square-dancing town-folk, all of whom burst into song or occasionally pick up instruments to sit in with the onstage orchestra.
The story is essentially the same as Shakespeare’s, itself adapted from the works of Plautus. A road-weary stranger (Jack Powell) from the town of Amarillo arrives in Abilene, where, he discovers, people from Amarillo have been outlawed. Sentenced to die, he earns pity from the sad tale of his life.
Once married with two identical twin boys, both named Antipholus, he and his wife essentially adopted two other twin boys, both named Dromio, but a terrible sandbar accident on the Mississippi resulted in the stranger’s wife being swept away, along with one infant Antipholus and one infant Dromio. He raised the other pair, who set off years ago to find their brothers, never to return.
Given till sundown to find his sons, the stranger is set free.
In Abilene, one now-grown Antipholus (an excellent Patrick Russell) and one of the Dromios (a rubbery Jonathan Deline) are reasonably respected members of the community. When the other set of twins stumbles into town (also played by Russell and Deline), an escalating series of mistaken identities, near seductions and disastrous misunderstandings takes place.
As staged by the Curriers, the tale is rich with hilarious bits and even a few truly sexy-sweet moments, as the out-of-town twins discover their true histories, and maybe even find love in the process.
It’s not quite Shakespeare, but it’s a whole heap of fun.
Rating (out of 5): ★★★½