WCT combines Shakespeare and vaudeville in The Comedy of Errors

By Jill Sperling
January 17, 2017 - 4:17pm Updated: January 17, 2017 - 5:47pm

KAMLOOPS — The classic works of William Shakespeare have been performed in theatres around the world for hundreds of years. While the stories are well known, the methods for telling them are constantly changing. 

Western Canada Theatre is preparing to bring The Comedy of Errors to the Sagebrush Theatre stage in a little more than a week's time. 

Former WCT Artistic Director Daryl Cloran is directing a vaudeville inspired adaptation of the play, filled with high-energy physical comedy. 

"I'm always drawn to that period of performance," Cloran said. "There's so many special skills and comedy involved in it, so we're working with a magician who's come as a consultant to teach us a bunch of magic tricks, so the whole show starts with a bit of a magic show, and we have a choreographer who's teaching us dance from the period, and we sing a few songs from the vaudeville period. I feel like it really supports this story." 

The Comedy of Errors is a story of mistaken identity, involving two sets of twins. If that isn't complicated enough, the play's 15 characters are played by only five actors. 

"I think it's really straight forward for the audience as far as seeing the different actors playing the different characters," Cloran said. "At first it starts with a lot of the costume changes happening off stage and sort of as they come in as a new character you'll get a real sense of who they are. But the story sort of builds to the final scene has about 10 or 15 characters on stage at the same time." 

Anand Rajaram plays twins Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus.

"Part of that is a trick of the costume," Rajaram said. "This is the hat of Dromio of Ephesus, and Dromio of Syracuse is the same except he has a green band, and that's the way Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus are also distinguished. Our outfits are identical except for that band. It's one of those things that we set up that the characters in the play don't notice the difference, but the audience should know the difference."

For Rajaram, the vaudeville era is one that has influenced him as an actor. 

"The Three Stooges, and Laurel and Hardy, and Herald Lloyd and all the Mack Sennett stuff, so there's a lot of that inspiration. That's what I grew up with. I grew up watching so much of Chaplin and all that, so this is really exciting because I'm pulling from my memories of a lot of that stuff, and cartoons. It's a very very cartoony show, so it's very accessible."

The actors have only been rehearsing for a week and a half, and the show starts on January 26.

"The magic of theatre always prevails, and it all comes together," Cloran said.

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