The Comedy of Errors
I was struck by the imaginativeness of the simple stage designs by Milton Howarth, which could be varied during a play by the addition of a counter, the drawing of a curtain, or the opening of a “wall”… [William French’s costumes] were strikingly beautiful and colorful, and very harmoniously blended. Especially delightful were the costumes for the comic characters, which struck a humorous note without any straining after ludicrous effect… The comic business… [was] artful and stylized, but the comic conception… completely burlesqued. With every moment played for immediate laughs, it was not surprising that the stars of the show were the two Dromios, who were played with great zest and acrobatic skill by Richard Pilcher and Robert Englund. Although comic masks were used for some of the characters, the choreographing of the action was less Commedia dell’ arte than Gilbert and Sullivan with an occasional nod toward Abbott and Costello. I do not mean to say that Benedetti cheapened the play for the sake of belly laughs…[S]ome of his touches were absolutely inspired…[O] ne wonders why he had to burlesque every role—to make Adriana something of a ninny and the Duke and Egeon simply ludicrous. By removing all traces of real characterization, he flattened the mood as well as the action of the play and turned it into a series of very funny sketches. (Robert Ornstein, Shakespeare Quarterly 21 : 475)
KeywordsComic Business Singing Voice Romantic Comedy Cuckoo Land Costume Designer
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