Ashland Theater Review: La Comedia of Errors

Aug 6, 2019

If you speak any Spanish you can have fun with “La Comedia of Errors,” Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s early comedy. If you speak a lot of Spanish you’ll have a rollicking good time. And if your first or only language is Spanish you’ll probably understand the show best of all.

Fidel Gomez (Antipholus/Antifolo), Amy Lizardo (Adriana).
Credit Jenny Graham / Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Bill Rauch and Lydia Garcia developed this comedy with half the dialogue in English, half in Spanish, and some translating and explaining by a gossipy neighbor, la vecina.

The 90-minute show plays in a rehearsal hall or the Thomas Theatre, as well as venues throughout the Rogue Valley. It’s meant to entertain all ages, and so it leans heavily on slapstick humor and child-pleasing silliness.

The style is similar to that of Shakespeare’s day, as well as street theatre, performed with minimal props, no scenery, and with the lights on, as if in sunlight. The audience sits in a circle, and in the middle ten actors and a musician create a whole town of comic characters.

Beware. You might be seated next to an actor and not know it. I had no idea I was sitting next to la vecina until she jumped up and started explaining things in two languages!

This boisterous tale of mistaken identities, involving two sets of identical twins accidentally separated at birth, highlights the difficulties faced by families divided by the US-Mexican border. When the Mexican twins grow up, they come to the U.S. to find their missing brothers, who were raised as Americans.

They all have much to learn, and one of the funniest scenes is when the Mexicans demonstrate the hottest dances from Latin America.

“La Comedia” gets a bit preachy at the end. It’s hardly needed, since the desired messages are conveyed throughout the play.