The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors

On Tuesday night, I finished reading the second play in the Dramagoon Shakespeare Challenge, The Comedy of Errors. As you may recall, I am making an attempt at reading all thirty-eight of Shakespeare’s plays. I am giving myself three weeks per play but I have finished the first two in an average of twelve days. If I keep this up, I may actually finish sooner than my current goal of June, 2014.

Shakespeare’s plays were originally categorized as comedies, tragedies, or histories. And The Comedy of Errors was considered a comedy, of course. If I had to put a label on this play, I would call it a farce. In fact, many of the farcical situations remind me of slapstick nature of The Three Stooges or Marx Brothers movies.

If you are unfamiliar with the play, here is a synopsis. Long before the play starts, identical twin boys are born (in a foreign city) to a man and wife who also purchase identical twin boys born on the same day to act as each son’s slave as they grow up. While sailing home, a violent storm destroys their ship (typical Shakespeare), separating the family in half; each with one parent, one son, and one slave. When the play opens, many years have passed and one son and slave, while searching for their twins, has arrived in the town of their brothers. At which point, all sorts of hi-jinks occur related to the mistaken identities of both sets of twins.

This is one of Shakespeare’s first plays and the humor is brilliant. I can’t imagine starting to write a show about the humorous situations that could occur when an identical twin is confused for his brother and then realizing that it would be even funnier with another set of twins for the original twins to be confounded by. I love how he sends each Dromio into situations with one Antipholus and then the other and then back again. I laughed out-loud while reading this. I will say that you do have to do a little suspension of disbelief to keep yourself from asking why a person searching for his own twin wouldn’t be suspicious of the odd situations that occur.

If you have seen this play or read it or just have opinions about it, leave me a comment. I would love to discuss it further. And if you would like to play along with the home game, I have just started my third play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and plan to finish it by June 2nd at the latest. This will be the first one of which I haven’t seen before and don’t know the story well. If you would like to join me on my quest, pick up a copy and start reading. I would love to share this challenge with others. After A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I will be reading The Merry Wives of Windsor.


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