Twins cause trouble as they fumble through a case of mistaken identity in “The Comedy of Errors,” presented by the Kenyon College Dance and Dramatic Club at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 6, Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8, in the Bolton Theater.
The play — Shakespeare’s shortest — is directed by Jonathan Tazewell ’84 P’15, the Thomas S. Turgeon Professor of Drama. Two sets of twin brothers, separated by a shipwreck, reunite after many years apart — but not before a series of entertaining encounters and romantic mishaps. Though the slapstick comedy is originally set in the ancient Greek cities of Syracuse and Ephesus, the Kenyon production is set in Cuba in the 1940s.
“There are a lot of similarities in the ways that Cuba and Havana were in the 1940s and the way that Ephesus is portrayed as a magical, maybe mystical, place, with the prevalence of underground crime,” Tazewell said. “Changing the setting gave us the opportunity to change the way the characters are dressed, and it also allowed us to incorporate Afro-Cuban music.”
Live Afro-Cuban music energizes the Kenyon production. Student musicians will dress in costume to play percussion instruments, guitar, trumpet, cello and more onstage.
Miles Shebar ’20 plays Dromio of Ephesus, one of the twins who was bought as a servant for the Antipholus brothers. Shebar, of New York City, was struck by the many meanings of identity that are presented in the play, particularly what it means to have an individual identity as a servant.
“The [twins’] mixed-up identity is a huge part of the comedy. At the same time, the whole play is wrapped in this broader storyline of this missing family that’s being reunited,” Shebar said. “What was interesting for me was that the Dromio twins are not part of that whole family structure. They were just bought by this family. What does it mean to have a master? How would Dromio feel?”
The comedy features a talented, diverse ensemble of student actors. It rounds out a year of lively productions at Kenyon, including Anton Chekhov’s melodrama “Uncle Vanya” and Scott McPherson’s “Marvin’s Room.” “We always try to vary our season to do some contemporary work and also to do something that’s more classical,” Tazewell said.
Tickets for “The Comedy of Errors” are $7.50 for general admission, $4 for seniors, non-Kenyon students and children under 12, and $2 for Kenyon students. To reserve tickets, call the box office at 740-427-5546.