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Pallas Theatre Collective The Comedy of Mirrors

By • Jul 26th, 2012 • Category: Fringe, Reviews
The Comedy of Mirrors
Pallas Theatre Collective
Studio Theatre – Milton Theatre (1501 14th St NW DC)
Through July 29th
90 minutes
Reviewed July 24th, 2012

There is a bad Kirk Douglas science fiction aircraft carrier movie called “The Final Countdown,” remarkable for, among other reasons, its lack of any countdown, final or otherwise. Pallas Theater Collective’s The Comedy of Mirrors (a shortened version of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors) is likewise marked by the complete absence of mirrors. This titular misnomer is the least of the production’s problems. Director Tracey Ellen Chessum’s apparent concept is that success in farce is best measured in decibels.

The volume of John Horman’s underscoring — so loud that Aegeon’s important expository monologue at the beginning of the show is nearly inaudible (John Wahl delivered it well, as far as I could hear) — is a foretaste. As the show goes on, the cast frequently pings the dB meter into the red, matching the production’s excessively frenetic acting style.

Michael Boynton plays both Antipholus twins and Kelsey Painter plays both Dromio twins. It is, of course, necessary for a double-cast actor to differentiate between his or her characters, but it is important for the characters in this play to be sufficiently similar to one another to make the plot’s confusion between them halfway credible. It doesn’t happen. Boynton plays one twin as an uber-doofus (think a younger version of “Back to the Future”‘s George McFly), and the other like an entitled, tantrum-prone frat boy who would not be out-of-place in “Animal House.” One of Painter’s Dromios is a reasonably believable, straightforward character, while the other is cringe-worthily sniveling. Boynton and Painter appear to be talented actors, physically and vocally, but they cannot overcome the production’s conceptual difficulties.

Laura Rocklyn as Adriana and Ty Hallmark as her sister, Luciana, are also polished actors who know what to do with a Shakespeare line. They start out doing a controlled and believable take on their characters, but even they get caught up later in the general cacophony. Kathleen Mason, as a dignified Duke Solinus, and Chelsea Mayo, as a courtesan with legs that won’t quit, do nicely in smaller roles.

Farce isn’t easy, and can require a delicate, wry touch to balance the absurdity of the plot’s situations. Trying to push the humor too hard and too loudly can kill a show.

Production Staff

  • Director: Tracey Elaine Chessum
  • Stage Manager: Scott Kincaid
  • Composer: John Horman
  • Scenic Design & Artist; Logo Design: Brandon W. Vernon
  • Costume Design: Carolyn MacLeod
  • Fight Choreographer: James Jager
  • Projections Operator: Kristina Moyer

Cast

  • Antipholus of Syracuse: Michael Boynton
  • Dromio of Syracuse: Kelsey Painter
  • Antipholus of Ephesus: Michael Boynton
  • Dromio of Ephesus: Kelsey Painter
  • Adriana: Laura Rocklyn
  • Luciana: Ty Hallmark
  • Solinus: Kathleen Mason
  • Aegeon: John Wahl
  • Police Officer: Cory Atwood
  • Merchant, TSA Agent: Theresa Buechler
  • Angelo: John Horman
  • Balthasar: Rhea Smirlock
  • Merchant, Cruise Director: Natasha Joyce
  • A Courtesan: Chelsea Mayo
  • Dr. Pinch: John Wahl
  • Emilia: Rhea Smirlock
  • Messenger: Kristina Moyer
  • Nell: Theresa Buechler
  • Understudy Adriana/Luciana: Rhea Smirlock
  • Understudy Antipholus Dromio: John Wahl
  • General Understudy: Kathleen Mason

Disclaimer: Capital Fringe provided one complimentary media ticket to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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has been an active participant in the Washington-area community theater scene since his arrival in town in 1975.

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