The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors
Reviewer's Rating

With the Delacorte Theater closed for major renovations, it would seem that the Public Theater’s traditional Shakespeare in the Park is on hold for the summer of 2024. But this is not at all the truth. In fact, it’s an opportunity for the Mobile Unit, the Public’s lesser-known Shakespeare in the Park, to take center stage with its ebullient, musical, triumphant traveling production of The Comedy of Errors.

The Public Theater’s Mobile Unit has long toured all five boroughs of New York City, bringing Shakespeare to prisons, community centers, homeless shelters, libraries, and more. This summer, with the Public’s venue in Central Park temporarily out of commission, The Comedy of Errors has been touring other parks across the boroughs, from Bryant Park to Prospect Park and beyond. I had the pleasure of attending the performance at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, their closest stop to my neighborhood. With the impressive buildings of the cathedral hemming us in on all sides, the stage is effectively set.

The Comedy of Errors, also styled as La Comedia de Errores, is a classic, soap-opera-y tale of twin confusion. There are two sets of twins, separated in childhood and confusingly sharing the same name as their corresponding brother, and they spend an entire day not realizing they’re being mistaken for their doubles. Antipholus of Syracuse and Dromio of Syracuse land in Ephesus, searching for their long-lost brothers and not realizing that those same brothers have established complicated lives in Ephesus. Hilarity and mistaken identity ensues. The production is bilingual, with an entirely bilingual Spanish-speaking cast. Though they mostly speak their lines in English, the Spanish interjections (translated by Julían Mesri) elevate the drama. One can’t help but draw the inescapable parallel between Shakespearean comedy and telenovela.

Pulling double duty are Joél Acosta and Gían Pérez, who play the twin men embroiled in all the confusion. Acosta’s Antipholus of Syracuse and Pérez’s Dromio of Syracuse arrive in Ephesus bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, full of brotherly comradery and eager to complete their quest of recovering their long-lost brothers. As their own twins, Antipholus of Ephesus and Dromio of Ephesus, they each play comically opposite personalities distinguished only by the colors of their hats. Acosta in particular is a joy to watch toggling between the doe-eyed twin and the womanizing, thieving twin, practically twirling a villainous mustache as he switches characters. Pérez as Dromio of Ephesus is more down-trodden than his Syracusian twin, but they both deliver much comedic relief.

But what makes this production so absolutely unmissable is the music (again by Mesri, with lyrics by Mesri and Rebecca Martínez). With artful, catchy songs that had the audience clapping and stomping along in time, the music introduces characters, sets the scene, explains motivations, and overall gives these characters a stage presence that immediately endears them, despite their various shortcomings. What better way to capture the snarky superiority of Antipholus of Ephesus than through the hilarious song “Deep Shame and Great Indignities?” Or lay out the complicated sister dynamics between Adriana (Danaya Esperanza), pining for her neglectful husband, and Luciana (Keren Lugo), who just wants better for her sister? Their duet, “Carne Fria” (“Cold Meat”), was one of the highlights of the entire show. 

There is no better way to spend an evening this summer than with this raucous cast, their excellent musical stylings,  and this gem of a lesser-performed Shakespearean comedy. You will be wooed and wowed; you will gasp with indignation and roar with laughter; you will give them the standing ovation they richly deserve. 


Written by William Shakespeare

Adapted by Rebecca Martínez and Julían Mesri

Music, Music Direction, and Spanish translations by Julían Mesri 

Lyrics by Julían Mesri and Rebecca Martínez

Directed and choreographed by Rebecca Martínez

Cast includes: Joél Acosta, Varín Ayala, Michael Castillejos, Danaya Esperanza, Rebecca Jimenez, Keren Lugo, Alan Mendez, Sara Ornelas, Gían Pérez, Desireé Rodriguez, Glendaliris Torres-Greaux 

Runs through 30 June 2024

Cathedral of St. John the Divine and various locations around NYC