Justin Jackson & Brian Hinds in The Comedy of Errors. Photo: Zachary Burrell

The Comedy of Errors

By William Shakespeare
Directed by Amy Attaway

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Somewhere in a place called Ephesus, two brothers have gone missing. Their father does not know where they are, neither do their obedient servants. What follows is a cataclysmic chain of events turning on mistaken identity not only between the brothers but also their servants. Kentucky Shakespeare serves up summer fun in the high Renaissance era with The Comedy of Errors. This play, Shakespeare’s shortest, lends itself to endless laughter with some pretty big comedy. 

To begin summarizing this plot would be almost impossible. Just know there was a shipwreck, some brothers who happen to be twins, both with servants who also look alike. One brother is married and the other is married to his money. Neither is aware of the other’s presence until a very clever reveal that only Shakespeare could cobble together. In Amy Attaway’s version, the action happens almost at lightning speed. Jokes fly fast and furious, running the gambit of slapstick, parody, satire, and everything in between. With a set adorned by bright colors of blues, pinks, and greens, flowers and produce burst out of set pieces, and garlands of lights are strewn above this play radiates vivacious summertime energy from start to finish with a company of high comedic talent.

At the core is Dromio of Syracuse played by Kentucky Shakespeare favorite, Gregory Maupin. Trust that he will bring his uniquely signature take on the confused servant who unwittingly progresses the chaos on stage. A servant to the unwavering Antipholus of Syracuse played by Justin Jackson, Maupin, and Jackson rely on each other to tread through the confusion of mistaken identity and create a wonderful comedic duo. Maupin is particularly clever during a door-shutting bit executed with a particular rhythm and precise wordplay. 

While Dromio and Antipholus of Syracuse stumble in and out of hairy situations, Dromio and Antipholus of Ephesus strive to rearrange the chaos to return to their home. Taljeed Hardy’s energy is infectious as Antipholus grows more frustrated with every turn, leading him into a hilariously physical retelling of the entire conflict that incessantly nags him. While Maupin’s Dromio is a man of philosophy and wit, Brian Hinds brings naivete and a wide range of emotions to his Dromiio. A servant who follows his heart and is just plain confused at times, Hinds uses his improvisational comedy skills to good effect. As luck would have it, the brothers and their servants are reunited. Jackson, Hardy, Maupin, and Hinds bring excellent execution of massive realization and revelation in a perfectly timed moment of physical comedy.

 The fun doesn’t stop in this Comedy. As Adriana, Antipholus of Syracuse’s wife, Mollie Murk reaches a heightened moment of exasperation that reaches a fever pitch. Murk’s wits-end performance is reminiscent of a Seinfeld–era Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Other players bring their A-game like Abigail Bailey Maupin as Adriana’s sister Luciana. Adorned in a blonde wig, Maupin is on the hunt for a man named Dromio and it doesn’t matter which one. Jon Huffman’s Egeon sets the pace of the play with a clever send-up to a popular film about another famous 20th-century shipwreck that almost naturally eases into the rest of the play. Crystian Wiltshire is sleazy in all the right ways as Angelo the Goldsmith. He brings touches of a dandy to a character that is otherwise Shakespeare’s version of the conman. Tom Luce shows off some great physical humor as he transforms into the old woman of the village, Luce, and the manic Dr. Pinch. Neill Robertson’s courtesan slays while Mary Audrey Baunjoko’s Duke is an alpha dog not to be trifled with. 

I was lucky to catch a performance with a pre-show from Camp Shakespeare. Comprised of ages 7 through 18, these young Shakespeare lovers performed scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and The Comedy of Errors. While this pre-show is predominately for family and friends of the actors involved, I hope to see a few of these young actors on the main stage in the next few years. 

Before the performance, Dr. Joyce McDonald of the University of Kentucky provided a lesson about comedy. During her presentation, she stated Shakespeare’s comedy is rooted in Greek theater traditions and themes of “ties that bind a family.”  And this Comedy of Errors relies on those themes and comedic tradition to create a great night of laughs.

Featuring Mary Audrey Baunjoko, Tajleed Hardy, Brian Hinds, Jon Huffman, Justin Jackson, Georgette Kleier, Tom Luce, Abigail Bailey Maupin, Gregory Maupin, Mollie Murk, Jennifer Reyes, Neill Robertson, Krystal Waller, Nick Wills, & Crystian Wiltshire 

The Comedy Of Errors

Part of Kentucky Shakespeare’s Festival in Central Park 

June 20-30; July 16, 19, 24, 27
(no performances on Mondays or Tuesdays in June)

Kentucky Shakespeare
C. Douglas Ramey Amphitheater
Central Park in Historic Old Louisville
1340 South Fourth Street
Louisville, KY 40208

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrights Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!