Monday, August 09, 2004

Anyone who knows me realizes I am a huge mark for Tina Packer and her Shakespeare and Company ensemble in Lenox Ma.
Since the acquisition of the Kemble Street property in the year 2000, Packer hasn’t been directing as much, concentrating instead on a round of fundraising and even a bit of acting here and there.
I look forward to her return to the directors chair…back in 1999 I screwed up my courage and lobbied her for a revival of Marlowe’s “Dr. Faustus”. She seemed taken with the idea…but I’m sure she is awash in suggestions good and bad.

Here is hopin’ though.

Fortunately, the company still prospers with other directors at the helm.
Which brings us to “The Comedy of Errors” directed by S & C veteran Cecil MacKinnon…rest assured she keeps the action moving fast and furious and mixes her cast with a winning mix of old pros and ambitious newcomers.
This is quite frankly the standard formula for success at Shakespeare and Company they are an authentic classical repertory theater.
Thankfully, Ms. Mackinnon is utterly unafraid of the text-this is critical because the Comedy of Errors is a deceptively tough play for any sensible director.
On the surface it is a farcical knockabout comedy, but with its two sets of contending twins, two masters two servants, four separate comic arcs, the potential for confusion and disaster is very very real.
It is not an easy production by any means.
Tell that to Dan “Dromio” McCleary though-his comic delivery is natural you’d think he was improvising up there.
Nominally he is a twelve season veteran of Shakespeare and Company…now I know he has played both MacBeth and Coriolanus to superlative effect, but when he is cast as some supporting clown (in this case the allegedly witless servant Dromio) it is as if he is channeling the late Curly Howard.
Dan McCleary is a natural clown and was MADE to play the likes of Stephano in “The Tempest” or Silvius in “As You Like It”.
Don’t know if he’d find that particularly complimentary-but it is truth that must be proclaimed.
So anyway, it is a marvelous show, Elizabeth Aspenlieder chews the scenery with gusto as the wronged wife Adriana…only Jonathan Epstein’s Ageon lacks gumption. He plays the doomed merchant a bit too tragically for such a raucous comedy; perhaps it is an artistic hangover from his triumph as King Lear last summer.
Who knows?
So anyway, the Comedy of Errors at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, go see it they have not let us down yet.

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