The Shakespeare Project: The Comedy of Errors

Marry, sir, she’s he kitchen wench, and all grease; and I know not what use to put her to, but to make a lamp of her and run from her by her own light. I warrant, her rages, and the tallow in them, wil burn a Poland winter: if she lives till Doomsday, she’ll burn week longer than the whole world. – Dromio

The Comedy of Errors is simple pure fun. Oh, I’m sure plenty of people can find deep meaning it. But you don’t have to go that deep to enjoy the pure foolishness of the plot, the characters and the dialogue. I literally laughed out loud a few times, notably in Dromio of Syracuse’s description of Dromio of Ephesus’ wife, from which the above is drawn.

Even in this comedy, however, you see once again how Shakepeare balances his comedies right on the edge of tragedy. A single mis-step and poorly timed meeting and you end up with one brother killing another for sleeping with his wife, the father executed, the servants in prison and the mother flinging herself from the nearest tall building. But the genius of the comedies is that they never have to play out that way. They don’t have a shocking ending for its own sake. We know, from the first scene, that all will end in laughter rather than tears. In fact, I had the whole plot in mind by Act 2. But, as I’ve said, it’s the journey from Point A to Point B that makes these so enjoyable.

Next Up: Much Ado About Nothing. One of my favorites.

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