The Raw Shakespeare Project: Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors

Raw Shakespeare Project

11th January 2019

McLaren Vale Visitor’s Centre

The Raw Shakespeare Project, previously Little Fish, opened their Summer Season on the 11th of January, with a performance of Comedy of Errors at the McLaren Vale Visitor’s centre. If you haven’t seen a show here, it’s certainly something to put on your bucket list. A Shakespeare company often found out of doors, The Raw Shakespeare Project, with director Damien White, has brought a number of the bard’s plays to life over recent years, showcasing the acting of a number of local and talented actors each sharing a passion for Shakespeare.

The McLaren Vale Visitors Centre is one of four venues to host this performance, three of which are located in the iconic wine region forty minutes from Adelaide. Stage-less, The Raw Shakespeare Project makes use of the open grass at the rear of the building, using the beautiful backdrop of local vineyards, hills, and forestry to contrast with the varied and vibrant settings of various Shakespearean works.

Beginning at seven, the show was designed to take place as dusk fell, fairy-lights and “stage” lights prepared for the evening to come. With one twenty-minute interval in the show, audience members were given the opportunity not only to refresh their drinks, but also to marvel at the changing sky behind the centre as the sun set.

Comedy of Errors follow the story of two identical sets of twins whose lives have been spent apart. Antipholus of Syracuse (Jabez Retallick) and Antipholus of Ephesus (Ognjen ‘Oggy’ Trisic) and their servants Dromio of Syracuse (Phoebe Shaw) and Dromio of Ephesus (Isabella Shaw) are interchangeably mistaken after Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant arrives in Ephesus. As the hilarity of mistaken identity ensues, is becomes “clear” to Adriana (Kate van der Horst) that her husband has gone mad. With the help of her sister Luciana (Heather Crawford) and the Duke Solinous (Damien White), Adriana intends to help her husband overcome his madness. But will Amelia (Shannon Gray) have something to say about that?

With the ready dynamic of the Shaw sisters as the Dromio sisters, and the cheerful antics of White as Solinous, Comedy of Errors was in set in motion. The similarities between the Shaw sisters gave the comedy a feeling of authenticity it might have otherwise lacked.

Despite a few extremely minor hiccups, the show was certainly entertaining and engaging. With much of the audience entranced, the Raw Shakespeare Project certainly paid tribute to the bard. I would recommend experiencing the Raw Shakespeare Company if not for their performance, then for the rich value of the experience: watching talented actors convey stories that aren’t just familiar but ingrained into our culture.

Comedy of Errors will be showing on Saturday January 18th at Beach Road Wines, Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd of February at Marion RSL, and concluding on Saturday 9th February at Fox Creek Wines.

Tickets for this limited time only show can be purchased online through their website: https://www.rawshakespeareproject.com.au/box-office

 


Words by Kayla Gaskell20181009_105310

Kayla Gaskell is one of the managing editors of Tulpa Magazine. She has a Creative Arts and Honours degree in Creative Writing from Flinders University. As well as working on Tulpa, Kayla writes for Fest, The Eye Creative, Readplus, and more.

 

Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America

‘What does this all mean?’ I’d love to tell you, but I have no flaming idea.

 

Last Friday night, while everyone else was gearing up to hit the town, some friends and I found ourselves at Adelaide University’s Little Theatre, ready for a wholesome, thought-provoking theatrical experience to round off our week. The play on offer was Stephen Sewell’s Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America. Did it fulfil our hopes for the evening? Let me just say this: it was a lot to take in.

We followed the character of Talbot, played by Nick Fagan, an Australian man working at an Ivy League college in America as a Liberal Arts lecturer. The audience watches him go off his rocker as he falls victim to societal questions about terror, ignorance, and the line between patriotism and nationalism. First produced in 2003, this ‘drama in 30 scenes’ deals with the carnage left behind after September 11. Sewell is renowned for his award-winning work, with this baby being one of his big ones.

The director, Erik Strauts, expresses a strong connection with the idea that society should, but never does, learn from history – this production was an active choice to explore how this concept applies to our modern world. The discussion that this play raises remains timely; it’s been kept in the spotlight by Trump’s rise to power in recent years.

As far as the set was concerned, designer Brittany Daw managed to reflect the vibe of an exceptionally uncomfortable merge between Nazi Germany and contemporary America: the colour scheme was red and black, spotted with white and blue finishes. During scene changes, the audience’s eyes would be directed up to a projection of an imposing American flag. As the play progresses the flag takes on another dimension, subtly fading to make way for an imposing icon – so keep your eyes peeled!

From where I was sitting, there were some stand out performances. The first one that comes to mind is that of James Black, who plays Max, the Aussie best friend of our poor mad-man, Talbot. Until a sneaky twist at the end, Max served as much needed comic relief – he was the familiar Australian perspective, uttering the word ‘mate’ here and there to dilute the sea of everything American.

And then there were Stan and Jack. Jack and Stan. Jarrod Chave and Tim Edhouse were highly convincing in their roles as staff members at the college and had an appealing chemistry on stage. Chave and Edhouse’s accents were also consistent and well-established.

There was one character which, for the life of me, I could not entirely wrap my head around. If any of you figure him out, please, get in touch. Halfway through the second act we are introduced to ‘The Man’ – yes, all I can think of is the Killers song. ‘The Man’ proves to be exceedingly problematic for our protagonist. He appears to resemble someone out of the Matrix: the big black coat, the white gloves, the wrap around sunnies. A 2000s icon if there ever was one.

I’m going to say that this University of Adelaide Theatre Guild production is not for the light hearted or impatient. It’s saturated with swearing and soaked with political and philosophical lingo.

Little Theatre pic

When you ask, ‘what am I in for?’ Well, it’s dense. It’s distressing. And it’s heavy in concept. It will challenge each and every one of its viewers. Without a doubt, it appeals to an elitist audience and, unfortunately, excludes the masses – in order to get the most out of this show, you need a thorough understanding of political and societal structures, as well as familiarity with influential writers and philosophers. Otherwise, you might find yourself in struggle-town. Perhaps this is a statement from the playwright about our ignorance. Or perhaps not.

In hindsight, I find it rather peculiar that I was sitting in the theatre at Adelaide Uni, watching a play, written by an Australian playwright, which picks apart the intricacies of the American dilemma. And within this play, Australia is spoken of as a ‘pretend country’ which really drills home how America seem to define us.

The movements of America – our so called ‘big brother’ – have become part of our everyday news headlines, absorbing our constant attention, and now occupying our theatrical spaces. Do we keep feeding the American ego by granting it all this attention? Or at the other end of the spectrum, are we becoming desensitised to the U. S. of A. because we are just hearing too damn much about it? Dare I say, we should now be looking a little closer to home, starting by centring our conversations around our own country. Because I would like to think that out nation is just as great, our issues just as urgent, and what we have to offer is equally as appealing.

Some things to think about between the many questions that will be left on your conscience after this doozy of a production.

 


Showing times: 17-19 May 2018, 7:30pm.

Venue: Little Theatre, University of Adelaide.

Tickets: $28 Full/ $23 Concession

Follow the link to secure your tickets.

 


Words by Michelle Wakim