William Shakespeare The Comedy of Errors
Duration approx. 2 hours and 10 minutes.
- 03 August 2015, 19:30
- 05 August 2015, 19:30
- 06 August 2015, 19:30
- 08 August 2015, 19:30
- 09 August 2015, 19:30
- 11 August 2015, 19:30
- 12 August 2015, 19:30
- 15 August 2015, 19:30
- 17 August 2015, 19:30
- 19 August 2015, 19:30
- 22 August 2015, 19:30
Print programme (PDF)
Thomas Wodianka, Antipholus of Ephesus / Syracuse
Florian Teichtmeister, Dromio of Epheus / Syracuse
Meike Droste, Adriana
Elisa Plüss, Luciana
Marcus Bluhm, Duke of Ephesus
Roland Renner, Egeon
Barbara de Koy, Abbess Emilia
Claudia Kottal, Courtesan
Karola Niederhuber, Luce / Night Club Singer
Christian Graf, Dr. Pinch
Alexander Jagsch, Angelo
Reinhold G. Moritz, Officer
Rafael Schuchter, Balthasar
Claudius von Stolzmann, Merchant
Other roles performed by the ensemble.
Musicians: Hubert Bründlmayer, Patrick Lammer, Bernd Satzinger
FREE BUS SHUTTLE SERVICE
Departure in front of Reichenhaller Strasse 4
Buses depart to Perner-Insel, Hallein 1 hour before the performance begins
William Shakespeare’s shortest play is also the only one to contain the word ‘comedy’ in its title. It would be an error in and of itself, however, to regard this brilliant play of mistaken identity as a pure farce. Real people with true depths, conflicts and needs are caught up in this comic business. And what makes this early work so attractive is the collision of their internal and external worlds.
The threads of plot that Shakespeare weaves together here into a single, compact whole are quite dissimilar. Unlike his contemporary Ben Jonson, he wrote only one genuinely urban comedy – and The Comedy of Errors is it. He imported the cast of characters of doctors, tradesmen and whores, together with the basis of the plot and his protagonists, a very confused set of twins, from Plautus’ Menaechmi. The second pair of twins, the two servants, he came across in Plautus’ Amphitruo, where the god Mercury transforms to become the double of Sosias, the slave.
Working with four twins, Shakespeare is able to square the number of confusions and misunderstandings of Plautus’ original plot. He cleverly arranges events so that the local Antipholus is gradually robbed of
everything which gives him his identity – his wife, his house, his name – while his brother from out of town finds all of this falling into his lap in such an uncanny manner that he begins to question his own sanity. The doubling of identities which is such a recurrent trope in Shakespeare’s work (he was himself the father of twins) always brings dreams and madness into play. This remains true of the Ephesus of the ‘Errors’, which, as Shakespeare knew from the Bible, was a place of evil spirits and devil-worshippers, where, in the play, Antipholus of Ephesus is ultimately pronounced insane and subjected to a humiliating exorcism.
Suddenly, then, Ephesus, where everyday life is structured by laws, prohibitions and contracts, is plagued by the impossible. In the resulting chaos, the extreme fragility of the network of (financial) relationships between the Ephesians is exposed. In this collision of shipwrecked mariners with shipwrecked marriages, of devils with whores, of lone wolves with doppelgangers, it becomes clear what thin ice we are skating on when we place our trust only in that which the rational mind can grasp.
The dream-like, irrational elements of the play are given greater depth by a framing story derived from the medieval romance Apollonius, King of Tyre, a fantastic tale of a family torn apart by fate (Shakespeare would later use it as the main source for Pericles). Here it is the family of Egeon, Emilia and their twin sons whose moving reunion concludes the play. Their trials and sufferings lend the boisterous comedy a plangent note, a fizzing ambiguity. The Comedy of Errors, then, combines farce and fairy tale: Shakespeare means not only to tickle our funny bones, but also touch our hearts.
Translated by David Tushingham