By Tom Titus
HUNTINGTON BEACH INDEPENDENT
Shakespeare in his most riotous incarnation is the fare at Vanguard University, where director Susan K. Berkompas has added even more laughter to the Bard’s freewheeling farce, “The Comedy of Errors.”
Prior to the show, the cast comes out on stage to “explain” the plot to the audience. But don’t try to take mental notes and attempt to remember the details as the show progresses because the action is thrust into overdrive.
As Shakespeare details it, twin noblemen, both named Antipholus, are separated as infants in a storm at sea along with their twin servants, both named Dromio. They connect again, as adults, setting off a tsunami of mistaken identities.
Berkompas adds her own bit of comedy to these “Errors,” casting a white actor (Nick Lazaris) as one twin and an African-American actor (Preston Butler III) as his identical sibling who, visiting a rival city, unwittingly convinces everyone, even his brother’s wife, that he’s the “other one.”
Butler, who pretty much commands the first act, cuts a dominating figure, while Lazaris, featured in the second, finds himself incarcerated and handles the situation with well-placed bluster.
The servants (Christopher Orta and Luke Rhoades) encounter similar mix ups and endure a good deal of physical admonishment from both masters as they juggle the Bard’s confusing plot points — a ring, a necklace a bag of gold. To their credit, they do so admirably, both being quite adept at physical comedy.
Hailey Tweter is particularly effective as the wife of one Antipholus convinced she’s wed to another. Also impressive is Michael Fidalgo, who has a full plate of characters to enact, once during the same scene as he switches identities behind the backs of other characters.
“The Comedy of Errors” is quite entertaining, if more than a bit confusing, and it serves as a valuable lesson in high-voltage comedy from its student cast at Vanguard University’s Lyceum Theater.
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