Review: “The Comedy of Errors” in Santa Rosa

Like an Elizabethan game of whack-a-mole, as soon as North Bay theatre companies knock out one outdoor summer Shakespeare production, another one seems to pop up.

Marin Shakespeare brought us Pericles at Dominican University’s Forest Meadows amphitheater, the Raven did A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Healdsburg’s Seghesio Winery, and Shakespeare in the Cannery did Shakespeare in Love in the, well, Cannery. A few more weeks of summer means a few more weeks of North Bay Shakespeare al fresco.

The Petaluma Shakespeare Company is presenting their Shakespeare by the River Festival with two shows – the bard’s All’s Well That Ends Well and an original production by Jacinta Gorringe entitled Speechless Shakespeare – through September 2.  Marin’s Curtain Theatre is presenting Henry IV, Part 1 at the Old Mill Park in Mill Valley through September 9, and Santa Rosa’s 6th Street Playhouse closes out their season with The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare’s earliest and mercifully shortest plays (merciful as it gets might cold in the Cannery after the sun goes down.)

Jared Wright, William J. Brown III

It’s the tale of two sets of twins – masters and servants – separated by shipwreck who years later come together in the city of Ephesus, thoroughly confusing wives, mistresses, merchants, and each other. Yes, the basic plot isn’t very original (Shakespeare “borrowed” it from a couple of even earlier plays) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t entertaining.

Director Jared Sakren has gathered a group of quality actors who all seem to be having fun with their roles. William Brown and Ariel Zuckerman are the masters who share the moniker Antipholus while Jared Wright and Sam Coughlin each play a servant named Dromeo. They’ll find themselves dealing with a bewildered wife (Jessica Headington), her supportive sister (Isabella Sakren), a doctor (Eyan Dean) who diagnoses demonic possession and an Abbess (Jill Wagoner) who’s just this side of Misery’s Annie Wilkes before everything is sorted out in the end.

Colorful Victorian-era costumes (that’s when it’s set) by Pamela Johnson add to the jovial tone of the show and there’s some excellent physical comedy by Wright and Coughlin as the put-upon servants.

It’s a silly show done seriously (and occasionally a bit too intensely) but overall, it’s an amusing way to bring summer theatre to a close.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

The Shakespeare by the River Festival runs Thursday – Sunday through September 2 on the Foundry Wharf Green, 625 2nd Street, Petaluma. Times/shows vary. Admission is free. petalumashakespeare.org

‘Henry IV, Part 1’ runs Saturday – Sunday through September 9 at the Old Mill Amphitheatre, 375 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley. 2pm. Admission is free. curtaintheatre.org  

‘The Comedy of Errors’ runs Friday – Sunday through September 2 at the Cannery Ruins behind 6th Street Playhouse, 52 W. Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 7pm. $18–$36. 707.523.4185. 6thstreetplayhouse.com

Photos by Eric Chazankin

An edited version of this review appeared in the North Bay Bohemian

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