The Comedy of Errors - RSC
Norwich Theatre Royal
Norwich Theatre Royal
People often grumble that the Theatre Royal doesn't do enough high brow stuff. It's all musicals and unfunny comedians, they claim. But, hey, it doesn't get much better than this. The Royal Shakespeare Company is here for a week doing a very up-tempo version of the Comedy of Errors.
It is, quite simply, great fun. There is nothing not to like. Purists might huff and puff that it's played for laughs but I reckon the Bard himself loved a more earthy approach to his work than many.
The plot is, of course, preposterous. A case of mistaken identities as twin brothers and their twin man servants run riot in Ephesus. There's a befuddled wife, a guy chasing money for a gold chain, a woman of dubious reputation and a lost ring - and much more.
Naturally, this type of sit com has plenty of tom foolery going on but there's a joyful family reunion at the end so you get a happy finale. And don't worry that the cast of telly actors - Siobhan Redmond (Between the Lines and Casualty) and brothers Simon (London's Burning and Merseybeat) and Jason (Waterloo Road and Cutting It) Merrells - might not cut the mustard - they have plenty of power in their performances.
This production has a real carnival feel, with lots of good old-fashioned slapstick comedy. There are weird hairstyles, funky make-up, off-beat costumes and a stark set as the show verges on the Theatre of the Absurd at times.
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But anything that gets today's audiences enjoying a play that's over 400 years old can't be bad.
“It was fun,” I heard time and time again as I left the theatre so at this time of year, amid the endless Christmas shopping, staff Christmas meals and miserable weather, just opt out and sample this utterly enjoyable - and first class - piece. It'll be your best Christmas present!
t The Comedy of Errors runs until Saturday, December 8. Call 01603 630000.