A COMEDY OF ERRORS
Illawarra Performing Arts Centre
An ancient Greek city becomes today’s King’s Cross in Bell Shakespeare’s latest adaptation of the Bard’s work, with A Comedy Of Errors opening at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre this week.
The play, the shortest and arguably funniest of all Shakespeare’s work, is updated for a modern audience by the Bell Shakespeare company.
Starting in 1990, the Sydney-based group remains “dedicated to producing the plays of William Shakespeare in a way that was relevant and exciting to Australian audiences”, with pantaloons and Elizabethan ruffs exchanged for jeans and T-shirts to bring the 16thcentury stories into the 21st century.
“It’s not so much a reinvention, but a nice honest take on this wacky play about mistaken identity,” says actor Hazam Shammas.
“The purists will love it. We’re not doing strange English accents but it’s true to the play.”
A Comedy of Errors, originally set in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus – in what is now Turkey – is transported to the King’s Cross red light district. While Shakespeare could never have imagined the dirty and debauched nature of the Cross, Shammas says the updated location fits the vibe of the play and stays true to the Bard’s original vision.
“In the play, Ephesus is a town of trickery and crime, money is the major currency. Where is our modern equivalent? King’s Cross,” he says.
“Its not making the play something it isn’t, but the brilliant thing is that it’s true to what Shakespeare gave us, and just makes it more awesome.”
The play about mistaken identity, crime, infidelity and the relationships between the haves and have-nots is one of the lighter works Shakespeare penned, and is ripe for fun and comedy. Shammas says the meaning of the play is accentuated and brought home all the more for being transplanted into a place we all know – or
at least, think that we know.
“In that Cross nightlife context, it really brings about the madcap stuff that happens on a night where everything goes wrong, where you might go out and have a few too many and before you know it, it’s 6am and the sun is coming up,” he says.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s crazy. That world is quite vibrant and alive and familiar.”
The show has been running for months, travelling around the country to rave reviews and deep belly laughs from all those in attendance.
But even performing a fun and light play would take its toll after a while, right?
“This show is really easy to do this long, long run because it’s fun,” Shammas says.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.