By Anna Wermuth of Maplewood Richmond Heights High School
Following a horrendously inconvenient shipwreck that separates two sets of extraordinarily identical twin brothers shortly after their birth, one can only imagine the trouble that would brew if those men were to end up in the same town many years later.
William Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors," performed by Francis Howell High School on Friday, Nov. 2, tells the story of this hapless confusion.
Written by the one and only Bard of Avon, the play takes place in an ancient Greek city named Ephesus. One man from each pair of twins resides in this city, and they are referred to as Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus.
Their long-lost brothers, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse, stir up a number of laughable mishaps the moment they set foot into town. The show is one of Shakespeare's earliest and shortest works and contains much slapstick humor.
The entire cast executed their lines in a very impressive manner, considering the complexity of the dialogue. Stutters and slips were rarely, if it all, heard. Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse—played by Clayton Humburg and Katie Angeli, respectively—made a compelling duo.
Angeli was very bold in her speech and gesticulations, and Humburg carried out brilliantly the humorous body language of his part, including falls, flinches, and flirtations.
Other notable characters included Luciana, played by sophomore Laura Haug. Assigned to a fairly significant role that induced quite a bit of comedy, Haug was very passionate, her voice dripping with believable emotion. Another sophomore, Danny Junkel, really embodied the meaning of the Shakespearian dialogue he verbalized as Antipholus of Ephesus.
Last (but certainly not least), the eccentric Cidney Woodson, who played the narrator as a well as an abbess named Aemelia, stood out to the entire crowd as intrepid, resolute, and hysterical. Some voices on stage could have used more projection, but every performer was solid.
Lighting was done well, and the set was also painted very nicely. The costumes, which were quite modern, deftly distinguished the differences in wealth between the characters. There were minor flaws in the brief sound effects and music excerpts played over the sound system.
The volume of the music or the performers wasn't always adjusted to meet the needs of the audience, but it didn't leave too much of a dent in the overall presentation.
Francis Howell's production was a rollicking pleasure to watch. Not one member of the cast broke character, in spite of the extremely comical action on stage. The audience was easily able to interact, with the assistance of the narration that kept everyone clear on the storyline. Each pun, push and pronouncement had the crowd roaring, and the happy ending was just the cherry on the sundae.
This review was submitted by The Cappies, a program that trains high school theater and journalism students as critics. The students then attend shows at other schools, write reviews and publish those reviews in local news outlets. At the end of the year, student critics vote for awards that are presented at a formal Cappies Gala.