Theatre review by Julia Pattison: The Comedy of Errors at York Theatre Royal

The Comedy of Errors by the RSC.
The Comedy of Errors by the RSC.

Play: The Comedy of Errors

Venue: York Theatre Royal

Review by: Julia Pattison

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) visited York Theatre Royal on 29 and 30 November with its First Encounters With Shakespeare production of The Comedy of Errors.

Primarily aimed at 7-13 year olds, Alex Thorpe has edited Shakespeare’s shortest play, making it more accessible to young audiences, yet retaining Shakespeare’s original language.

The RSC have been taking these First Encounters productions on the road into the heart of communities for over a decade now, and long may they continue to do so, if the excellent production I experienced was a measure of their adaptations.

It was a great idea to involve local schools, in this case pupils from Fulford School and York High School, who helped to tell the story; and what a complicated story it was too!

The production I saw involved pupils from York High School early on in the story, and it was wonderful to see them so engaged and earnest.

The gender-split cast of eight actors and actor-musicians were superb – it was a high energy performance from start to finish! You almost lost the plot (involving twins, massive mix ups and misunderstandings), but it mattered not a jot; the slapstick, sight gags and marvellous music gripped the young audience’s attention and held it throughout. Miraculously, through clever use of casting a young member of the audience as the arresting Officer, the plot was carefully recapped, and suddenly, the plot became clear.

Lewis Griffin playing Dromio of Ephesus was a clear favourite of the young audience with his comic capers, but the whole cast made the whole play a fast, furious farce to be thoroughly relished.

This was a first encounter with Shakespeare that these young audiences will never forget. What a wonderful way to sow the seeds of love for literature for future generations.