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The Comedy of Comedy

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The Comedy of Errors –  Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Words by Sadna Choudhury
Image: RCS Flickr
After general disaster, delirium, and… I can’t think of another ‘d’ word, so I’ll just say the insanity that shrouds student existence when you stumble upon a bunch of deadlines that are far too close together, I made an exasperatingly early trip to Glasgow. The reason? A student production of a Shakespearian comedy. More specifically, The Comedy of Errors.
Instead of gaining some much desperately needed sleep (I don’t even know how I’m writing this, now), bleary-eyed and grumpy, I managed to face a noisy train to Edinburgh to visit my sister.
I even survived the dirty (but distinctly cheaper) bus journey to Glasgow afterwards, and all in hope of supporting a dear friend who was taking part in the production. I do admit a casual contemplation of suicide by this point, however. I perked up, partially at the thought of seeing my girls, but a huge flask of coffee (when one mercifully thinks ahead) can work wonders!
Greeted as we were by an angry downpour of rain, we siblings could not contain our excitement when the day’s grimness diminished upon arriving at the desired destination. We trudged into the swanky Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (yes, I’m sticking with that adjective, there really is no other way to describe it) and suffice it to say we were impressed. It’s a sleek and glossy heaven of a school, littered with what I imagine to be every budding young ingénue within the immediate vicinity. And the show, let me tell you, did not disappoint either.
So on that Wednesday evening I sat watching cast ‘B’ perform. I believe these student actors alternated roles on matinees and evenings and I can readily attest that this production was well worth the train fare! Though I may be generalising, student productions are among the cheapest shows one might ever see – and the majority I have seen have actually been very, very good. Drama schools are notoriously hard to get into. It makes sense, therefore, that the precedent remains high. I suppose what I’m trying to get at, is that though I expected the show to be impressive, just how much it exceeded expectation was shocking.
Image: RCS Flickr
For those who don’t know, two sets of identical twins are accidentally separated at birth in The Comedy of Errors. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which seemingly happens to be the home of long lost brothers, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus. Confused? With such extremes in mistaken identity, the comic hijinks that ensue are positively wild in this play. The actors sang too – in a live band – had a dance number and the physical timing and slapstick elements were perfect almost every time. Everyone was well rehearsed and this, naturally, (though it may seem pedantic to point such a thing out) was vital – especially in comedy. Coupled with some good set choices, like a fabulous light-up cross, vintage suitcases and some silly cowboy hats to offset some traditional Scottish kilts when it came down to costume, the laughter of the audience could have reached the rafters.  A definite kudos to those who worked hard regarding set, costume and choreography. These second-years at the RCS certainly did Shakespeare’s farce justice and brought it into the 21st century.
Though I was familiar with the essence of what happens, I’d never read The Comedy of Errors prior to seeing the show. This will soon change. I am going to root through my shelves for my collected works, which I can readily admit I have not touched since leaving high school.
And I just know that when I get to, ‘My gold!, quoth he’, and remember the miming of one Antipholus and the other Dromio (I haven’t a clue which master or servant was either at present), that was among one of my many, favourite parts of this particular production – I’m going to crack up laughing. 
Sadna Choudhury is an English Literature student at Manchester Metropolitan University. If she’s not at a play, she’s reading a book unrelated to her degree. 

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