Encore Michigan

Interlochen’s ‘Comedy of Errors’ is laugh out loud funny

Review July 08, 2024 Marin Heinritz

INTERLOCHEN, MI–It’s been six years since the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival produced a comedy, instead opting to make thinly-veiled political statements through bold tragedies and histories with terrific thematic parallels to the news of the day. From “King Lear” after the election of Donald Trump to “Richard III”, “Othello”, and “Julius Caesar”, the Upton-Morley Pavilion stage was poignantly grim and foreboding.

However, it seems as if the world has gone so topsy turvy now that only the most “delightfully wackadoo play” full of “madcap buffoonery” will hold the mirror up to nature, to quote the program notes for this year’s Shakespeare Festival offering.

Indeed, this production of “Comedy of Errors” is a perfectly vibrant, high-spirited slapstick farce that turns preposterous situational comedy based on mistaken identity into good-for-you, laugh-out-loud funny, tremendously satisfying high art. 

Gracefully directed by William Church with both broad strokes and nuance, this buoyant tale springs to life with a marvelously cartoonish quality, a 16th Century tale that exists out of time. Boldly colorful costumes, designed by Amanda Lifvendahl, seem to be a little bit ‘40s and ‘50s with porkpie hats, fedoras, pin-up girl hair, plaids of every stripe, rainbow-colored argyle, hot pink polka dots, and tri-colored saddle shoes, though some background music feels, at times, ragtime, and at other times ‘80s synth. 

The colorful period mashup literally dances across the stage, little pops of color in front of the bright yellow floor-to-ceiling wall of doors designed by Edward T. Morris. Players contort, twerk, and butt smack through regular pop-inspired, synchronized dance interludes with fun choreography by Matthew Lindstrom, effectively keeping this wild farce moving jubilantly.

In between these staged dances, the story unfolds, with equal physicality. A father, in defiance of the law, is in search of his twin sons, separated long ago by a shipwreck, as well as the twins he adopted to serve as his birth sons’ slaves. He faces death or an exorbitant fine for trespassing and the clock is literally counting down to his punishment. In the meantime, Antipholus of Syracuse and his man servant Dromio happen to be in Ephesus where, unbeknownst to them, their twins reside—and Ephesians, particularly the wife and sister in law of Antipholus of Ephesus, mistake the twins for their brothers. 
Much shouting, punching, near-infidelities and throwing around of bodies ensues, to the utter delight of the audience, with whom the performers interact and demand applause with some regularity. Until the resolution comes boldly in a surprisingly moving reunion.

Skylar Okerstrom-Lang is especially in command as a silly, seductive Antipholus of Syracuse who hops, jogs, jaunts, and moonwalks his way into the heart of Marie-Josée Bourelly’s fiery Luciana. Their energy is electric and their very physical performances beautifully matched. Okerstom-Lang creates another wonderful duo with Jeremy Gill as Dromio of Syracuse. Gill’s accents and their scene describing where different countries are on a woman’s body is a scream, full of puns and magnificent timing. Gill also makes the most of creating window farts so noxious that they knock out people.

The other set of twins, Sebastian Grim as Antipholus of Ephesus and Parker Bond as Dromio of Ephesus, take their comedic turn after intermission, and offer hilarious moments and clever interpretation. Also noteworthy is Lola Kennedy as an irate, exasperated Adriana. Both she and Marie-Josée Bourelly are exemplary comediennes and their scenes together inspire plenty of belly laughs.
Those belly laughs are pure gold and they come fast and furious with this tightly crafted show full of marvelous performances and the excellent ensemble that makes the most of every pun, every rare pause, every wordless moment, every precious bit.

And rather than avoiding or making light of our world gone mad, this production of “A Comedy of Errors” very deliberately has something quite hopeful to say: that out of great misunderstanding and miscommunication can come joyful reconciliation and resolution.

Week of 7/15/2024

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