2nd Annual Shakespeare in the Parks Review—Chicago Shakespeare Excels at putting the COMEDY in Comedy of Errors

 

 

A delightful romp in the park…

That’s one way to describe the compact (75 minute) production of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors that began in Eckhart Park on Sunday, July 28 and will continue through 18 in parks across the city.

Jessie Bond (a theater and English major at Elon University and Chicago-Splash intern),  and Amy Munice (Splash journalist and theater-goer whose Shakespeare exposure dates back to elementary school trips to Stratford, Connecticut) share a conversation on the 2nd Annual Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks performance of Comedy of Errors.

 

The Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of The Comedy of Errors opens in Eckhart Park, presented FREE FOR ALL in 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago, now through August 25, 2013. Photo by Chuck Osgood

 

Jessie: How did you think the outdoor space affected the performance?

Amy: Chicago Shakespeare made such excellent and creative use of the park space.  First, by having the stage appear as if the cast was a troupe of traveling troubadours it was very evocative of Shakespeare’s time for those who were more familiar with Shakespeare.  Second, the cast running into the crowd during the chase scenes was very funny. It was a romp reminiscent of Marx Brothers movies.  Didn’t you just love when one Dromio sat in the audience petting pitbull puppies as he gave his lines?

 

High jinks and confusion make for a hilarious romp in the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of The Comedy of Errors, presented FREE FOR ALL in 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago, now through August 25, 2013. Photo by Chuck Osgood

 

Jessie: What did you think of this interpretation of Shakespeare's work? Was it accessible to the audience? How is it different from other interpretations you've seen?

Amy: This is on par with the hip hop version that I saw Chicago Shakespeare do- Bombity of Errors. 

The play lends itself to slapstick modernizations.  The ample physical comedy—juggling, chases, acrobatics, etc.—made it an absolute joy to watch for all ages and all backgrounds.

 

Samuel Taylor and Paul Hurley as Dromio and Antipholus of Syracuse are shocked to encounter their long-lost twins, Jürgen Hooper and Andy Lutz as Dromio and Antipholus of Ephesus in the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of The Comedy of Errors, presented FREE FOR ALL in 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago, now through August 25, 2013. Photo by Chuck Osgood

 

Jessie: Do you think this event would have been different with a tragedy rather than a comedy?

Amy: Yes, it is difficult to imagine Chicago Shakespeare creating a tragic performance as engaging as this comedy but I absolutely think we must defer to their most capable Shakespearian hands.

 

Tiffany Yvonne Cox as Luciana shares a quiet moment with her sister, Lanise Antoine Shelley as Adriana, before mistaken identities threaten to pull them apart in the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of The Comedy of Errors, presented FREE FOR ALL in 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago, now through August 25, 2013. Photo by Chuck Osgood

 

Jessie: Which performers stood out to you?

Amy: With Shakespeare as with other plays it often seems that those with the better lines are the most memorable.  The Dromio who gets to say “..without rhyme or reason..” of course rings bells of recognition. 

But with this performance my vote would be for the very physical supporting cast that was rich with acrobatic gags.  The small part actors may have stolen the show.

 

The Bumbellini, performed by Wesley Daniel, Jacob Grubb, and P. Tucker Worley, delight audiences with acrobatics and slapstick antics in the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of The Comedy of Errors, presented FREE FOR ALL in 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago, now through August 25, 2013. Photo by Chuck Osgood

 

Amy: As a young actress who has had a chance to act in Shakespearean plays, what did you learn from this performance that will inform your future Shakespearean roles?

Jessie: I think the physicality was the biggest thing I’ll take away. These actors found openings in the text where they could make room to have some fun and use their bodies to create an engaging and lively performance. I hope that next time I act Shakespeare, I will be able to use blocking to my advantage the way they did.

 

The madcap company of The Comedy of Errors from the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production, touring to 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago, now through August 25, 2013. Photo by Chuck Osgood

 

Amy: What takeaways do you have now as this early stage in your career as to what makes for a successful “play in the park” that works for a diverse audience such as we had in the Eckhart Park setting?

Jessie: I think the engagement with the audience was definitely one of the most important things. The “travelling troupe” setup and the actors’ movement through the audience really made the audience feel like they were connected with the actors. The people watching felt like they were as much a part of the story as the people acting, and that is something that is universally appealing.

 

The men of Ephesus share a moment of camaraderie in the Chicago Shakespeare in the Parks production of The Comedy of Errors, presented FREE FOR ALL in 18 neighborhood parks across Chicago, now through August 25, 2013.Photo by Chuck Osgood

 

Amy: Since this is free and playing several more times in various parks this summer, would you consider returning with a group of friends?

Jessie: Absolutely! I’m going to invite as many people as I can.

 

For a complete list of dates/locations, visit www.chicagoshakes.com/parks

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