The Olivier stage is a large space and this production uses the space extremely well. The large towering buildings move around to represent different parts of the city, and even become the shipwreck where the twins were separated. There is a sense of the commercial business taking place in the city as well as the darker aspects of life there, such as the prostitutes and the hustlers. Though on the surface things seem fine, underneath there is a more sinister side as the potential execution of a man hovers over the events.
I thought that Lenny Henry (Antipholus of Syracuse) was spot on with the verse speaking. He used a Nigerian accent and this worked well and also added to the comedy because his twin did not have the same accent. A points we got some of Henry’s stock voices (and faces), but I didn’t feel they intruded. Playing alongside Henry, Chris Jarman is extremely good as Antipholus of Ephesus. It was great to see him in something else after playing the Prince of Morocco in the recent RSC Merchant of Venice. There are also two great performances from Claudie Blakey as Adriana and Michelle Terry as her sister, who manage to negotiate extremely high heels as they try to make sense of the strange behaviour of the men around them.
The production left me wondering why anyone doesn’t catch on to the fact that the twins from Syracuse have arrived in town, especially as the father explained the circumstances at the start of the play. The play is about confusion and mistaken identity and this leads to the slapstick humour, which is wonderfully highlighted when the twins from Syracuse arrive and cause mayhem in the town square, ending in a traditional pie in the face. The band link scenes extremely well as they sing pop songs in a foreign language .
I thought this production was extremely entertaining and I am looking forward to seeing how it looks on NT Live.
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