Re-review: The Comedy of Errors, Propeller at Hampstead Theatre

“Alas, poor women! Make us but believe…”

Revisiting The Comedy of Errors, one of the Propeller shows currently residing at the Hampstead Theatre proved to be even more fun than seeing Richard III again as I found myself enjoying it more on second viewing. I actually trekked up to Sheffield to see this at the beginning of their tour and my review of the show from then still stands as there really is little more to add and i’m running out of superlatives with which to describe the guys: “anarchic panache” and “reverentially irreverent” are my personal favourites.

I can’t help but feel, that more so with this than RIII, that this is about as definitive an interpretation of the play as I will ever see. RIII has its absolutely delicious moments to be sure but I have seen and can still see other ways of doing the play that would work (if not quite as well) but in terms of getting the laughs out of a Shakespearean comedy, this is in my experience unequalled. Hardly a joke misfires or an eyebrow raises as it is all so finely tuned and carefully interpreted to extract the maximum enjoyment that I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t love this.

This time, I managed to take in all of the 80s tunes arranged by Jon Trenchard which were sung in the foyer in the interval to great effect and ensuring another healthy collection for charity, the Eurythmics medley was probably a winner there. But I was mildly disappointed there wasn’t the patrolling of the foyer before the show began that we saw in Sheffield as I had set my heart on being frisked by Dominic Tighe’s leather-trousered policeman. When it came to his interval shenanigans, he once again overlooked my offer to marry him (such a heartbreaker) but his flirtation with a guy further back (Oh, you must be here from Hampstead Heath…) was a great bit of theatre-specific improv work.

The show is sold out now, but I urge you to try and get returns if you’re thinking about it, as the tour winds its way to an end by finishing in Germany, Ireland, Italy and Denmark. A Pocket version of the show will be toured in the autumn but while the (slim) chance to see it in full still exists, get thee to Swiss Cottage.

2 thoughts on “Re-review: The Comedy of Errors, Propeller at Hampstead Theatre

  1. Alas this was one instance when we found ourselves to be a humorless island in a vast sea of hilarity. The humor felt physicality (farcically) imposed on a nearly forgotten text; I suppose I wanted more expansive enjoyment of the verbal qualities of the play as a foundation (and a structure) for the physical frenzy.

    This all makes me sound like the driest of old fuddy-duddies – is that inevitable to the experience of theatrical humor-alienation? It has to be said that I do love Comedy of Errors. When I was nine, my grandparents took me to an RSC production (Desmond Barrit played both Antipholi) and I adored it so much that I insisted they take me again. But the Propeller version, alas, couldn't compete with the mythic stature that production has in my theatrical memory.

  2. Oh this makes me sad!! But of course not, the beauty of theatre is that it affects us all in different ways and we all have our own histories with certain plays. Myself, I've never enjoyed this particular one, and to be honest, can't see myself enjoying other productions (not least the forthcoming Lenny Henry starring one at the National Theatre).

    And of course, on top of all this, is the simple fact that different things make different people laugh: no fuddy-duddyness about it at all.

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