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The Comedy of Errors (1983)

The Comedy of Errors

A Royal Shakespeare Company production of Shakespeare's play, performed at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (opened 9 August 1983).


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The first photo shows the cast members.  The second shows Adriana (played by Zoë Wanamaker) and Luciana (Jane Booker).  The third shows Adriana and other characters.  The fourth shows Adriana and Luciana.  The fifth, sixth, and seventh show Luciana, Adriana, and other characters.  The eighth shows Adriana and another character.


When he and his family were caught in a storm at sea, Aegeon, a merchant of Syracuse, managed to save one of his twin sons and one of his young servants (also twin boys).  In the chaos he was separated from his wife, Aemelia, and the other boys. 

Years later, Aegeon travels to Ephesus, desperately seeking those he lost during the tempest.  Unbeknown to the old merchant, the twins have also arrived there in search of their lost loved ones. 

What follows, in one of Shakespeare's earliest plays, is an ingenious comedy of mistaken identity.


Solinus, Duke of Ephesus ... John Dicks
Aegeon, a merchant of Syracuse ... Joseph O'Connor
Antipholus of Syracuse ... Paul Greenwood
Antipholus of Ephesus ... Peter McEnery
Dromio of Syracuse ... Richard O'Callaghan
Dromio of Ephesus ... Henry Goodman
Adriana, wife of Antipholus of Ephesus ... Zoë Wanamaker
Luciana, her sister ... Jane Booker
Luce, her maid ... Frankie Cosgrave
Angelo, a goldsmith ... Timothy Kightley
Balthazar ... Geoffrey Beevers
A Courtezan ... Emma Watson
Dr Pinch, a conjuror ... John Dicks
Aemelia, a Abbess ... Sheila Ballantine
An Officer ... Paul Clayton
A Merchant ... Stanley Page
Another Merchant, to whom Angelo is in debt ... Raymond Platt
Citizens ... Selena Carey-Jones, Doyle Richmond, Charles Lawson, Peter Lennon, Simon Treves

The following cast changes were made when the production transferred to the Barbican: Roger Hyams (Citizen), Graham Sinclair (Citizen), Alexander Wilson (Citizen).  Part way through the run at that theatre, Anthony O'Donnell took over the roles of Solinus and Dr Pinch, Miles Anderson the role of Antipholus of Ephesus, and Tina Jones the role of the Courtezan.


At the Barbican
Director: Adrian Noble
Designer: Ultz
Lighting Designer: Robert Bryan
Music: Nigel Hess
Music Director/Foyer music arranged by: Richard Brown
Movement: Ben Benison
Company Voice Work: Cicely Berry and David Carey
Assistant Director: Peter Clough
Assistant to Designer: Jill Jowett
Stage Manager: David M Harvey
Deputy Stage Manager: Gail Berryman
Assistant Stage Manager: Alison Owen
The Pit Orchestra: Richard Brown (piano), Wilfrid Gibson (violin), Victor Slaymark/Leslie Walklin (saxophone/clarinet), Colin Bilham (bass), Tony McVey (drums)
The Foyer Combo: Christopher Lacey/Laurence Joyce (flute/piccolo), Peter Whittaker/Brian Sewell (bassoon), Roderick Tearle (trumpet), Colin Rae (trumpet), Brian Newman/Philip Thorne (horn), Duncan Hollowood/Timothy Caister (horn), David Hissey/Paul Barrett (trombone), Peter Washtell/Bernard Shaw (percussion)


While both plays explore love, loss, and identity, the contrast between this production of The Comedy of Errors and the production of Twelfth Night that accompanied it is great.  Whereas Twelfth Night was performed with traditional costumes and a realistic, dark set (heightening the production's often sombre mood), designs for The Comedy of Errors were bold, colourful, and wacky.  They certainly contributed to the show's 'prevailing party spirit', which the reviewer R.B. Marriott enjoyed.

The Comedy of Errors is one of the many productions in which Zoë has appeared with the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, which she joined in 1976.  Her other RSC productions during the 1980s include The Time of Your Life (1983), Twelfth Night (1983), Mother Courage and Her Children (1984), and Othello (1989).

Press coverage

The Stage's R.B. Marriott called The Comedy of Errors 'one of the most entertaining comedy productions in years'.


The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare

Related links

The Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Theatre) production photos - AHDS Performing Arts Database - Designing Shakespeare Collection

The Comedy of Errors production photos - Photostage (search the collection using the keywords 'Wanamaker', 'Comedy', and 'Errors' to view images)

The Comedy of Errors production photo - Rex Features

The Comedy of Errors (Royal Shakespeare Theatre) production information - Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (information about the production at its subsequent venues can be found by searching the RSC Performance Database on the Trust's website)

The Comedy of Errors plot summary and performance history - RSC Shakespeare

The Comedy of Errors complete text - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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