THEATRE REVIEW: Comedy of Errors – Maltings Theatre, Roman Theatre Open Air Festival  

Imagine one of Shakespeare’s crazier comedic romps set in a Greek karaoke bar and you have a good vehicle for a funny play with songs. The show includes Sinatra, Queen, Abba, I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside and more. The incongruity is part of the joke.

We start with the deeply distressed Egeon (Matthew Parker who also directs). He is condemned to death for turning up to search for his lost family, eventually he is reprieved. Meanwhile the rest of the play is a sit-com about two sets of identical twins separated in infancy and now the victims of a great deal of mistaken identity.

Lewis Jackson as Antipholus of Syracuse (his first professional acting role) delights with his puzzled bravado and frustration as so much apparent nonsense is spoken to him. It’s an impressively strong performance. I also admired Phoebe Marshall as Adriana, the wronged, misunderstood feisty wife and Rosie Edwards as the glad-eyed opportunist, Luciana. And this is a cast of eleven who work slickly and entertainingly together.

The music works less well and often feels bolted on and contrived. There are too many songs, some of which aren’t particularly well sung (although Phoebe Marshall is excellent). If it’s an attempt to sound amateurishly karaoke, then it falls more than a bit flat – literally in some instances. 

Review by Susan Elkin