Written for audiences aged 7 and up, Hilary Bell’s version of Shakespeare’s comedy assumes no prior knowledge of the play, of Shakespeare, or of any form of live theatre.
In translating a knockabout story of two sets of twins unwittingly entangled in an exotic city of Ephesus, Take Two also shows young audiences what theatre can do and how it works.
Produced by the National Theatre of Parramatta and directed by Stefo Nantsou, Take Two distills a slapstick-filled story that typically keeps a cast of 10 fairly busy and has it played by just five.
Bilal Hafa is Antipholus and Antipholus, twin sons of a Syracus merchant separated in childhood during a storm at sea. Mansoor Noor doubles as Dromio and Dromio, identical twin servants to each Antipholus.
Gabriel Fancourt, Libby Asciak and Lindy Sardelic take care of everyone else.
Each twin has turned out a little differently. The Ephesus Antipholus is a suave businessman. His Syracus counterpart (Syracus being somewhere west of Parramatta, it seems) is a bit of a dude. Blame nature or nurture, but neither Dromio has a lot going on upstairs.
Colourfully staged, just 75 minutes long and delivered in modern-day language for the most part, Take Two is The Comedy of Errors as pantomime. The performances are big, the emphasis is on comedy and the fourth wall is regularly breached.
The actors work like demons. I’d be surprised if the cast member heart rate dipped under 150 for the entire show. Noor is very funny as the two Dromios. Fancourt hams it up a storm as celebrity jeweller Angelo, Solinus (Duke of Ephesus) and the crazy Doctor Pinch. Sardelic is a picture of agitated confusion as Adriana when she’s not wearing a fake beard as Egeon.
Hafda is a performance poet first and foremost and his dialogue delivery isn’t always as dynamic as his peers. But when his chilled Syracus Antipholus digs into the rhythm of Shakespeare’s poetry for Asciak’s Luciana, he can make a crowd of schoolgirls squeal with delight.