If you are in search of a traditional Shakespearean production, you will certainly be in for a shock with this outrageously fun and camp adaptation of Comedy of Errors.
Originally directed and adapted by Brisbane playwright, director and producer Dan Evans for a university production, this version of Comedy of Errors brings to life the raucous energy that Shakespearean theatre deserves in a way that I have never before seen in Brisbane. Part of the inaugural season of Apt.13 Productions and co-directed by Ally Hickey and Sarah McNally, this young-professional-led production is full of so much talent that it was practically oozing from the small space we were in.
The mood was set from the moment the audience entered the venue, as the actors were dancing pre-show to upbeat music in outfits which can only be described as music festival-esque or Mardi Gras (think glitter, docs, bralettes, galaxy buns, iridescent bum bags, harnesses, snapbacks etc). We are introduced to the show with a set of rules: keep the bench clear for dancing; cheer as loud and as much as you want; you can get up for a drink at the bar at any time; but the actors reserve the right to yell “BUFFALO” at any time, requiring you to finish your drink. The one time a rule was broken – a wine glass shattered as an actor passed over the bench – a Dromio, played by Daniel Kirkby, ran with the moment, shouting: “We had one rule! One f***ing rule!” This moment showcased Kirkby’s exceptional professional response to something that could have broken the scene.
As a beautifully funny and colourful homage to queer culture, this play reminded me how powerful and varied adaptation work can be. Some of the highlights of these included the sheer amount of glitter (so much glitter!), rainbow tutus, kiking and dance-break-kiking. Every single actor and actress was exceptional, but I do want to bring particular attention to Sarah McNally, who played Adriana, and Harry Hughes, who played Antipholus of Syracuse. Both Mcnally and Hughes had precise comic timing and stage presence and it was such a delight to watch them owning the space.
Although this was easily one of my favourite shows that I have seen this year, there was still a questionable scene between characters Angelo and Antipholus. The scene sees the two male characters rubbing up against each other and appearing to enjoy it, before looking at each other and pushing away, gagging in disgust. As a queer identifying woman, I did find this scene somewhat uncomfortable because the trope of playing the queer as a disgusting concept for laughs is a little outdated. Though I don’t believe that this moment took away from the show as a whole, nor do I think in any way that it was intended to be offensive, it did leave me wondering whether it could have been either left out or executed with more consideration.
Apt.13 Productions performance of Comedy of Errors can be described as a fun romp from the moment you enter the performance space. The whole creative team behind this play should be very proud of the work that they have created and, if this play is anything to go by, they will have a long-term audience member in me.