Last night, I went to see Shakespeare in the park, performed by the Oddsocks theatre company, as part of their outdoor summer tour. Despite the rain starting before I’d even left the house, I packed up my camp chairs, met some friends, and braved the outdoor elements. By the time we were sat down and the play was ready to start, the rain seemed to have stopped.
That did not last long.
Unfortunately, this review will not be a true reflection of the play, which was (the bits we saw) funny, engaging and extremely accessible (even for someone like me who doesn’t know the story of “The Comedy of Errors”!). The Oddsocks company consisted of just five actors, which resulted in lots of multi-role, with Andy Barrow taking on the role of identical twins Dromio and Dromio (yes, they both have the same name) and Elli Mackenzie taking on the role of identical twins Antipholus and Antipholus (yes, they also both have the same name - not confusing at all!). The five actors (I scoured the Oddsocks website but couldn’t find the names of the other three!) made up a terrific ensemble, which resulted in a Shakespeare play filled with up-to-date references that delighted both adults and children alike.
One of my favourite parts was the sea shanty sing-a-long as the characters boarded a “boat” to travel to Ephesus. It was a good job the actors had a boat too, as about 30 minutes into the first half, the heavens opened, and the storm that shipwrecks Antipholus and Dromio became all too real.
By the interval, we were completely soaked, but the actors were prepared to power on. Whilst we were sat under umbrellas and blankets, they were onstage, putting on brave faces and laughing and dancing their way through the hilarious play.
Half way through the second act, the weather took an even worse turn, and as lightning lit up the sky, Barrow had to call the performance off for safety reasons. It was a shame not to see the end of this production, although the severity of the rain had made it difficult to hear the actors towards the end.
Oddsocks have kindly offered everyone free tickets to catch the show at Bromsgrove in a few weeks. Unfortunately, I’ll be busy on that date, but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for when Oddsocks are back. I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to experience Shakespeare - but next time, I think I’ll check the weather forecast first!
For full details of Oddsocks’ summer tour, check out their website: https://www.oddsocks.co.uk/thecomedyoferrors
Tom Morley, July 2021