CAMBRIDGE — The final act in many great Shakespeare plays finds the stage littered with corpses. Not so “The Comedy of Errors.” The final scene is resolution and restoration and most importantly ... a bunch of laughs!
On Saturday evening, and repeated on Sunday afternoon, the Shore Shakespeare Company defied forecasts of storms and brought their traveling production to Long Wharf in Cambridge. The play is about a shipwreck, mistaken identities with not one but two sets of identical twins, and a grieving father who has lost his family. The threat of execution hangs over him with the visible rope of the jailer a constant.
This outdoor, in-the-round production unites two geniuses living more than 400 years apart. The first, Shakespeare, is revered, but unfortunately too many people are afraid of his works and language. The second genius is director Greg Minihan, who says this early play of Shakespeare’s lends itself to visual buffoonery and bawdy pantomime, making the action easy to follow without compromise of the language.
A student of literature at Harvard, Mr. Minihan is a former actor and dancer in Broadway smashes like “Cats” and “Peter Pan.” He brings his creative intensity to a play that is meant to amuse with frequent noodle beatings, Shakespearean scatology (yes, the Great Bard himself wrote the fart jokes), and misunderstandings in relationships. For the imaginative and outrageous production touches, Mr. Minihan says, “I credit my mother, Dorothy, a teacher who loved to put on great school plays. She inspired me early on and I still rely on some of her tricks."
“The Comedy of Errors” deals with very human conflicts that arise from mistaken identity: jealousy and suspicion in marriage, false accusations in business, and an absence of mercy. Modern-day issues are ever-present in all of Shakespeare’s plays. Antipholus, one of the twins, feeling isolation and loss says, “I to the world am like a drop of water that in the ocean seeks another drop.” He seeks his mother and his brother. Two sisters argue feminism. Luciana: “A man is master of his liberty.” Adriana: “Why should their liberty be more than ours?”
The Shore Shakespeare Company has a mission “to bring the liveliness, richness, rudeness, accessibility, universality, and just plain fun to our Eastern Shore communities.” The company has one more stop nearby. The fine cast of 15 and the production team will provide another opportunity to see the play. They will perform on the lawn of the Oxford Community Center on May 30 and 31, at 6 p.m. and 3 p.m. respectively.