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Comedy of Errors is one of Shakespeare’s early plays. It tells the story of twins separated in childhood and, by exploring human relationships, satirizes the associated anxieties, mistakes, and misunderstandings.
The version of the play directed and adapted to young audiences by Eric Brinkman and Aubrey Helene is a modern take on the problems that have continued to concern people from the oldest times and that have been eloquently exposed by many authors before Shakespeare as well. The products shown on Lincoln Theatre on September 30 highlighted the major themes from the original play and, through the actors’ excellent performances, made viewers reflect on the nature of human identity.
Design Element: Costume
It is possible to assert that costuming is one of the most important theatrical elements of design. It is also one of the primary parts of a character’s identity. In the play, the actors were wearing modern-style, casual, colorful garments. Patches, suspenders, patterned backpacks, and turban-like headpieces gave their look an unusual and surprising twist. The garments transmitted optimistic energy that was appropriate for the comedy. It was also apparent that the costumes were selected while considering the age of the audience. More realistic costumes could have been chosen for an older audience. However, a bright, optimistic, and slightly eccentric look had a better effect on young viewers.
Dramatic Element: Rhythm
The play had a vivid rhythm with many accents. The events proceeded at a moderately rapid pace so that the performance had an energetic tone. It is possible to assume that the choice of the rhythm was mainly defined by the overall duration of the performance (60 minutes) and the genre of Shakespeare’s composition. The rhythm was primarily conveyed through the actors’ movements and interactions. Moreover, even their facial expressions, which were a little bit grotesque and exaggerated, helped to create an appropriate mood.
Issues of Diversity
Although the problem of gender relations cannot be regarded as one of the major themes in Comedy of Errors, it is still implicitly present there. Both male and female characters were represented in the play, and they were equally vocal on the stage. However, semantic analysis of the plot may show that the relationships portrayed between males and females reflected the conflict inherent in the patriarchal social model.
All women in the comedy played the role of men’s companions. Although some characters like Adriana might seem strong and even authoritative, they were all posed in the frame of their relationships with men. Although Adriana could complain and scold her husband and express her opinion in any other way, she did so only because she was anxious about his absence. It seemed as if without him, she felt incomplete. Therefore, she merely acted as a member of the family—her social functions were reduced to her gender role in the patriarchal structure of society. From a feminist point of view, the given form of gender representation may be regarded as a sign of social inequality.
Overall, the production of Comedy of Errors by Brinkman and Helene can be considered successful. The actors’ performance, design choices, and dramatic elements were well-balanced and merged into one harmonic whole. The directors also managed to select the most important scenes from the original play, and it allowed them to raise some topical issues related to the social identity of every person—how it is formed and whether it is possible to change it.