‘The Comedy of Errors’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse

First performed in 1594, William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors is one of his earliest and most farcical of his comedic works. With adaptations on stage, film and television, its story is classic. The Comedy of Errors is full of heavy slapstick and many ‘plays on words.’ Most theatres shy away from Shakespeare because of its difficulty, but Laurel Mill Playhouse and Director Joshua McKerrow have assembled a fine team of actors who triumph. I was so impressed by the cast’s command of the language.

With Shelby Monroe Hylton, Kyle Kelley and Matthew Purpora. Photo by Joshua McKerrow.

With Shelby Monroe Hylton, Kyle Kelley, and Matthew Purpora. Photo by Joshua McKerrow.

The play begins with a merchant of Syracuse, Aegeon (Tom Tomlinson), who is under arrest by Duke Solinus (Josh Hopkins) of Ephesus, a nearby and hostile city. Aegeon has come to look for his long lost son, Antipholus of Ephesus (Peter Eichman) who was lost long ago in a shipwreck. Aegeon goes on to explain that Antipholus of Ephesus is the twin of his son Antipholus of Syracuse (Matthew Pupora), and they were separated as infants with their servants, also twin infants, Dromio of Ephesus (Arlington Foster) and Dromio of Syracuse (Kyle Kelley), as well as Aegeon’s wife Emilia (Mark Allen) on an ill-fated voyage. The twist occurs when Antipholus of Syracuse also travels to Ephesus, unbeknownst to Aegeon, and a whole host of situations and mistaken identity and comedy, and confusion, and hilarity ensues.

Actress Kat McKerrow plays the wife of Antipholus of Ephesus, Adriana, and is exceptional! McKerrow is clearly well-versed in Shakespeare. Her expressions are priceless. Playing her sister Luciana is actress Jenny Hasselbusch, who delivers an exceptional perfrmance as the more demure of the two.  Their scenes make for some of the most entertaining of the evening. The fun begins when we first meet them: the brooding  McKerrow is exasperated that her husband has not returned home. At the same time, Hasselbusch tries to calm her by reminded her that “men are the master of their own freedom.” They play off each other quite well.

Tom Tomlinson, Joshua Hopkins and Kat McKerrow. Photo by  Joshua McKerrow.

Tom Tomlinson, Joshua Hopkins and Kat McKerrow. Photo by Joshua McKerrow.

The first of the twins we meet is Matthew Pupora (Antipholus of Syracuse) and his slave Dromio of Syracuse (Kyle Kelley). This is a much contrasted pair with Pupora capturing the role of a nobleman very well, while Kelley plays this spindly and very fun counterpart. Kelley is hilarious as he bounds about the stage diligently following his master.

Then we meet their alter-egos, Peter Eichman (Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant Dromio of Ephesus (Arrington Foster). There is great chemistry between them, and Foster plays a very poised servant with an excellent deadpan delivery.

There are also wonderful performances from Tom Tomlinson as the forlorn Aegeon, and from Josh Hopkins,who doubles as the Duke of Solinus and Dr. Pinch. Hopkins steals the show as the over-the-top Dr. Pinch, an exorcist of sorts, summoned to bring Antiphololus of Ephesus to his senses by his wife Adriana.

Rounding out the talented cast are Morgan Wenerick (Angelo), Lori Bruun as the second Merchant and Luce, Shelby Hylton as a Courtesan, and Miguel Valarino Salazar in many roles. Valarino takes on all roles with great enthusiasm, and he really shines as an officer in Act 4.

The design team also deserves high praises for the excellent and intricate set, designed and constructed by James Raymond. Raymond makes good use of the small space as the walls were adorned in stone work and beautiful art representative of the 16th century Mediterranean. Actress Kat McKerrow doubles as the costume designer and also does an admirable job adorning the actors with beautiful clothing, full of beautiful colors, and stunning touches of gold.

With Shelby Monroe Hylton, Jenny Hasselbusch, Joshua Hopkins, Peter Eichman and Miguel Valarino Salazar. Photo by  Joshua McKerrow.

With Shelby Monroe Hylton, Jenny Hasselbusch, Joshua Hopkins, Peter Eichman and Miguel Valarino Salazar. Photo by Joshua McKerrow.

Laurel Mill Playhouse’s The Comedy of Errors is a laugh-filled time in the theatre. I strongly urge you to buy tickets and see this enthusiastic cast perform. The bard would have been proud!

Running Time: 90 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.

The Comedy of Errors plays through February 1, 2015 at Laurel Mill Playhouse— 508 Main Street – in Laurel, MD. For tickets, call the box office (301) 617-9906, or purchase them online.

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