The Comedy of Errors

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


The Comedy of Errors was partly a musical production with a song at the beginning and the end and bits of singing and dancing along the way, but the text remained intact, even to the extent of all of old Aegeons lengthy speech in the first scene. In a presentation that did not deny farce and slapstick their rightful place, Mr. Phillips was careful to preserve those wistful touches of loneliness and bewilderment that give that play a perspective beyond the reach of burlesque. The closing song was about identity. The music was Alan Laing’s. The words, I suspect, were by Mr. Phillips. The subject sounds an unpromising one for lyrical composition, but in the event, sung movingly by the full cast, the song celebrated, without vulgar sentimentality or pedantic stress, a theme that is woven into the texture of the play. The setting was North America in the late 1800s, yet none of the language nor any of the names were changed. The sea was still close at hand, Aegeon was a merchant of Syracuse, Epheseus was the scene of the action, and Solinus was the Duke of that city. There were a few who found this incongruous and upsetting, but I found that, with the text intact, any discrepancies were superficial and not disturbing… It was a triumphant production for the Young Company, full of acrobatic energy, but with farcical and slapstick bits so crisply timed and adroitly performed that one had the impression of watching some preposterously enjoyable sleight-of-hand. (Berners W. Jackson, Shakespeare Quarterly 27 [1976]: 24–32)


Twin Brother Rightful Place Musical Production Lyrical Composition Full Cast 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

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