Every season, a group of High School students participate in STC’s Teen Critic program. These students attend the productions, participate in workshops and craft critical reviews reflecting their unique perspectives on the performances. Fourteen young critics are participating in this year’s program and below are excerpts from some of their first reviews.
Click here to find out more about the Teen Critic program.
Max Tankersley, 12th grade, Washington-Lee High School, VA
The Shakespeare Theater Company’s production of The Comedy of Errors blended clever incorporation of musical numbers and an inventive set with fast-paced comedic timing to create a farce that immediately engages its audience and doesn’t let go until the final bows.
Jocie Mintz, 10th grade, Walter Whitman High School, MD
The plot of this Shakespearean comedy is complicated. In short, two sets of identical twins are separated in infancy. One set is wealthy, the other are servants. They are unknowingly in the same place as adults, and hilarity ensues. A plot this convoluted seems impossible to understand onstage, especially when written in iambic pentameter. However, the dialogue transfers onstage wonderfully when read by the powerful actors. Paul’s direction embraces slapstick stage combat, choreographed by the remarkable David Leong. The zany and frequent fight scenes provide exciting, clear, and dynamic storytelling. Shakespeare is sometimes hard to understand, but Paul’s direction helped make the plot understandable while keeping its classic charm.
Mallory Bedford, 12th grade, Chantilly High School, VA
The play opens not with the arrest of Egeon which introduces the plot of the two Antipholuses, but with a song sung by people of Ephesus. It is from this moment that the audience gets the feeling that this isn’t merely a play about a couple of mixed up twins, it’s the story of twins who get mixed up in Ephesus. The town is not just store fronts and houses, it is a colorful ensemble of nervous porters, tap-dancing policemen, leather-clad backup dancers, and mesh wearing seafood shop workers. The audience understands exactly what Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse mean when they think they’ve entered into a magical land. The residents of Ephesus who pop up behind them while they are making this claim only enhance the fact that it is the people of the town that make it seem magical. The setting comes to life by the people who accent each scene with the energy and quirkiness that could only come from inhabitants of a town where mix ups of this proportion could happen.
Anna Brosowsky, 10th grade, DC International School, DC
The set, designed by the always creative James Noone (Kiss Me Kate, The School for Lies), only adds to the hilarious confusion, as the fluidity of the multi-locational set, stationed on a rotating turntable, makes the material that much more amusing. The turntable proves extremely effective, not only adding to the chaos of the chase scenes, but also in the nod to the cyclical nature of the play itself. The gray and white theme of the set with the pops of color brought on by some accent pieces lends itself well to the surprisingly modern take on this lesser-performed Shakespeare play.
Lauren Xu, 11th grade, BASIS DC, DC
While there is much frivolity and lightheartedness, there is also a more sincere aspect to the plot. At its heart, this show is about finding one’s family and searching for a sense of belonging and completion. The closing scene of the play was wonderfully heartwarming and left an “aww” in the air.
Adam Winchenbach, 11th grade, Richard Montgomery High School, MD
The performance had the virtue of being my first experience of a Shakespeare play, hence my self-doubt that I would understand. However, superb acting soon made up for the sometime difficulty in deciphering the language. The players nearly threw themselves into their role, and quite literally threw themselves across the stage. Some acted like their lives depended on it, in order to fully make good use out of Shakespeare’s overly emotional language. Without good actors like the ones which performed for me, Shakespeare’s writing could not thrive like it had. Putting their heart and their soul into every little emotion and detail made it not only easy, but natural, to pick up on what was going on. This unloaded the burden off my shoulders and I began to relax. As the play went on I found it easier to understand, and very entertaining nonetheless. I became so entrenched in the performance, that, to my surprise, I found myself laughing. It seemed that Shakespeare was a master of the physical humor, right up there with the likes of Jim Carrey. Also, the overreacting by the players effortlessly translated itself into hilarious comedic timing and physicality.
Maggie Wang, 12th grade, National Cathedral School, DC
The actors bring the play to life as much as the colorful, modern touch of its technical elements. The two sets of twins are obviously to be commended, with Gregory Wooddell as Antipholus of Syracuse, Christian Conn as Antipholus of Ephesus, Carson Elrod as Dromio of Syracuse, and Carter Gill as Dromio of Ephesus. The actors are so well-acquainted with each other’s roles and with the details of the play that it is difficult to tell the difference between one twin and the next. Good comedy requires that lines and movements be precise and sharp, and the actors fulfill this charge with apparent ease. Also excellent are the performances of Ted van Griethuysen as Egeon and Nancy Robinette as Emilia, parents of the twins Antipholus: their powerful stage presence infuses the production’s first and final scenes of with emotional power.
Mary-Kate Wilson, 11th grade, Washington Latin Public Charter, DC
Although I know the dangers of applying a modern feminist perspective onto a classic product of the 1500s, I commend the actresses of Adriana (Veanne Cox) and Luciana (Folami Williams), who worked to portray the women of Ephesus as complex, believable characters, even in such a raucous and often vulgar play. Adriana is a savvy, confident woman who knows what she wants, and Luciana is fiercely loyal and optimistic, always on the watch for her sister.
Ilana Maiman, 12th grade, Walter Johnson High School, MD
Veanne Cox brought Adriana into the 21st century, making her hilariously fragile in her jealousy, but still commanding of power and agency. Both Dromio’s – Carter Gill and Carson Elrod – were delightfully bumbling but never the same. Special mention must be made to Gregory Wooddell monologue about finding one’s other half. Peter Kavinsky could not woo me better.
Emma Shacochis, 12th grade, Oakton High School, VA
As Antipholus of Ephesus’s wife, Adriana, Veanne Cox is commanding and witty. Cox shines particularly in her frequent, hysteric meltdowns about her husband’s absence, particularly as she vents and flails to her pious younger sister, Luciana (Folami Williams) in her first scene. Eleasha Gamble as the charismatic Courtesan lends her sultry voice to several of the musical numbers. Sarah Marshall appears towards the play’s end, but her wildly eccentric Dr. Pinch, who wields a crucifix like a gun, is the definition of a scene stealer. The protean ensemble – Matt Baumann, John Cardenas, and Justin G. Nelson – are adept at whichever role they play, effortlessly switching from nuns to courtesans to mustachioed deli owners, making each role vivid. The trio shines radiates glee when united as Ephesus’s police force, cheerily tap-dancing (choreography by Karma Camp) through “Forty Hours a Week”.
Olivia Roark, 10th grade, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, MD
The cast is brilliant, the set is stunning and the jokes are hilarious. In this production, director Alan Paul has really taken The Comedy of Errors to the next level and excelled in achieving the play’s most significant goal; making people laugh. So though it’s slightly corny and slow-moving initially, Shakespeare Theater Company’s The Comedy of Errors is definitely worth seeing for its sheer humor. After all, as the show’s jazzy opening number says “once in a while, why not smile?”
Hana O’Looney, 9th grade, Richard Montgomery High School, MD
As the Michael Kahn era of the Shakespeare Theatre Company closes, Director Alan Paul brings some of Shakespeare’s most complicated jokes and relates them to a modern audience through slapstick comedy and an imaginative use of the Lansburgh stage. A twin himself, he notes the deeper meaning behind the show and all of its farces -the reunification of a broken family. Even if you’re not a big fan of Shakespeare, if you’re looking for a laugh with a happy ending, his The Comedy of Errors is the show for you.