The Comedy of Errors, currently showing at the Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, is only too well-named. The play revolves around an ongoing confusion of identities. The narrative follows two sets of identical twins: The brothers Antipholus are patricians and are served by bondsmen named Dromio, who are also identical twins. How or why they got the same names is not explained.
In a shipwreck, years before the play's action begins, the Antipholuses and their Dromios were separated. One man and his servant went to Ephesus, and the other and his servant ended up in Syracuse. These cities are at war, and if a Syracusan is found in Ephesus, he has a day to come up with a sum of gold or be executed. Nonetheless, Antipholus (Michael Aaron Santos) and Dromio (Isreal M. Scott) of Syracuse travel to Ephesus in search of their brothers.
The plot concerns the twins' befuddlement of Ephesans, particularly Adrianna (Rachel Carrico), the wife of the Antipholus of Ephesus. Much of the fun comes from antics like one twin telling something to the other twin or giving him money to deposit only to have the other twin deny he was ever spoken to or given money. Shakespeare plays with this chaos extravagantly. Imagine for instance, Adrianna's horror at being rejected by the Antipholus she thinks is her husband. Or his shock at being told he has a wife. The farcical intricacies are both enjoyable and easy to follow.
The cast is excellent and director Lorenzo Gonzalez keeps things moving along at a commendable clip while throwing in many nutty moments. He set the play in 18th century New Orleans, and if you disregard the Greek names, this works just fine, particularly the hilarious voodoo exorcism. Christopher Arthur (with Cecile Casey Covert) designed the luxurious costumes. David Raphel designed the appropriately cartoonish set.
The Comedy of Errors
7:30 p.m. Wed.-Sat., through July 11
Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, Lupin Theatre, 865-5105 ext. 2; www.neworleansshakespeare.com
Tickets $25 adults, $22 students, $12.50 children