Shakespeare’s farce is perhaps more topical than his other comedies. Although some of the intricacies of the plot are no longer recognized in polite society, the theme of duplicity and contractual bonds, be it business or marriage, are as relevant today as they were four-hundred years ago. We are just as emotional, petty, greedy and full of lust and love, yet with the exception of medical advancement and technology, there is little difference. This play explores the uniqueness of identity, warts and all.
The story opens on a dark note, as the merchant Egeon (Jamey Hecht) finds himself condemned to death. He relays his story of his family, torn asunder by a storm, now lost to him. Unknown to him, his sons are in close proximity. They are as ignorant of each other as their father. It only takes circumstance, equally comedic and dire, to mend a splintered family.
Director Charles Pasternak enlivens the script with quick pacing and excellent stage dynamics, particularly the action scenes. Both Dromios (Christina MacKinon and Gus Krieger) nailed their roles with subversive panache. Taylor Fisher as Luciana illuminates the stage with a true presence. Dana DeRuyck has the gift of comedic timing. All the performers excelled.
This is easily the best production by the Porters of Hellsgate. I have watched with interest the progression of the troupe and how they have evolved. The genius of Shakespeare is captured when you hear the voice of the seventeenth century as it were penned yesterday. This play, running through November 28 at the Actors Forum Theatre at 10655 Magnolia Blvd., comes highly recommended. For more information, call (818) 325-2055 or visit www.brownpapertickets.com.