Retro Review: The Comedy of Errors (1983)
Few of the productions in The Shakespeare Collection seem as low budgeted as The Comedy of Errors. The setting seems made out of paper, the costumes to have been dug out of a cellar somewhere and chosen at random. Yet it sports some good acting, such as Roger Daltrey‘s performance of Dromio. And the text, of course, is beautifully pronounced. The story is a twin farce, filled with people mistaking twin for twin and therefore causing much confusion.
It is well written as such, and even a bit heart-warming. The direction is therefore to blame for not leaving the audience more amused. The puns fail to hit their mark, the outrage caused by the misunderstanding fails to produce laughter and everything seems a bit too poised, too neat, too polite and tame to be effective. You’ll smile at things you know you could have chuckled at.
There are some good ideas here. The setting and costumes seem to indicate a longing for a Commedia dell’Arte style of production or even a bit of pantomime, but rather than executing that idea, the director leaves only traces of it scattered about. Michael Kitchen’s easy-going performance is not bad in itself but puts a damper on a piece that should be filled with chaos, rendering all shenanigans coy and the film’s pacing very slow.
Final Verdict: A very tame production of a play filled with chaos and crazy misunderstandings. The Comedy of Errors becomes The Comedy of Wordplay and Half-Baked Ideas.