Ulster Theatre Company in association with Theatre at The Mill

By Michael Poynor and Mark Dougherty, Designed by Elroy Ashmore and Choreographed by Deborah Maguire

With:  Paul Boyd, Richard Clements, Drew Dillon, Orla Gormley, Sarah Lyle, David Marken, Orla Mullan and Chris Robinson

Band:  Mark Dougherty, Kevin Lawless, Brian Rice, Nick Scott, Alisdair Wallace

“This line by line translation, which keeps the original rhythms and rhymes … it’s really very clever.  

It’s great fun!  The two sets of twins, with their game of accents (Dublin/Belfast), actually improve on the Shakespearian original.”


“No error as Bard’s farce hits the streets of Belfast … fine stage set … script nicely mixed old and new …

Charleston dancing that was exausting just to watch … Comedy of Errors is a winner”


“A 1920s era musical version of Shakespeare’s farce is expertly updated and directed by Michael Poynor. 

It’s a dazzlingly updated story.

The main effect of giving the Bard a Belfast accent is  to consistently, at times brilliantly, illuminate the verbal comedy in the play, a feature often buried beneath  the accumulation of contemporary references and obsolete vocabulary in the original.

Drew Dillon  dispatches writer/director Michael Poynor’s devilishly clever litany of global locations with incredible  fluidity, exactly replicating (perhaps even improving on) the nudge-nudge naughtiness of Shakespeare’s  original conception.  It’s a fantastically effective piece of comic acting.

Dillon is one of eight actors, all of whom buy skilfully into the gestural styling of the 1920s period production, with its frequent use of silent film semiology, freeze frames, slow-mo sequences, and melodramatically exaggerated gestures. 
They need to sing and dance too.  Comedy of Errors: The Musical sports a jazzy score by Mark Dougherty, based principally on 1920s styles and idioms.

Dougherty is a hugely experienced composer, and it shows: the songs match words and music expertly, neatly summarising knotty situations, and often actually advancing the action, a relative rarity in musical theatre.

The choreography (by Deborah Maguire) of the frequently complicated ensemble numbers is handled with particular assurance by the singing actors. It’s economically imagined, avoids unnecessary staginess, and truly complements the dramatic action, rather than smothering it.

Poynor also manages the frenetic unravelling of the play’s mistaken identities with particular élan and imagination, his actors scurrying hyperactively among the seated audience in a wild, Keystone Cops-style chase sequence, to an underscoring of racy jazz licks from the five-part band on stage, led from keyboard by the composer.

It’s the kind of ‘audience involvement’ moment that’s often cringeworthy in the theatre.  Here it works, partly because the actors themselves seem so unself-consciously immersed in the general mayhem, partly because the spilling-over of the havoc and confusion of identities on stage seems natural, even necessary, as events boil to their over-wrought conclusion.

‘What I want,’ writes Poynor in the programme, ‘is a frantic, pacy, phrenetic, farcical musical comedy, with all the elements of a hugelyentertaining theatre experience without having to apply deep cerebral thinking.’

That is pretty much what he and his talented, hard-working cast and musicians have delivered.  It’s a joyful, feel-good evening, but also one that takes the intentions of Shakespeare’s original play seriously, throwing interesting contemporary light on what it actually is that makes this particular ‘comedy of errors’ enduringly funny.”


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Comedy of Errors: The Musical playing at Theatre at the Mill is a grab-bag of show-tunes, puns and kicks to the keister.

Set in fast-talking, fast-dancing 1920’s Belfast – recreated on stage with a beautifully minimalist set design of doors, blown-up photos of period Belfast and a canary yellow pavilion by designer Elroy Ashmore –  
Michael Poynor’s adaptation Charlestons its way gleefully through Shakespeare’s comedy of mistaken identity.
Going to see A Comedy of Errors at the Theatre at the Mill certainly isn’t an error in judgement. 
The songs are catchy, the dance sequences (choreographed by Deborah Maguire) are fun to watch and Poynor’s direction keeps the anarchical comedy tightly under control.  Oh, there’s a few groaners here and there, but the joy of the play is that it just makes it better.”


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