Able cast provides the rhythm and timing required to pull off entertaining new take on the Bard’s The Comedy of the Errors.

Theater Review: Hip Hop Hilarity Fuels Second Thought’s Shakespearean Remix

Rating

A

Location

Kalita Humphreys Theater -- Bryant Hall 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Dallas, TX 75219 Buy Tickets

Dates

Jul 6 thru Jul 22

“I’m about to soliloquy up in here,” pronounces a character in the Shakespearean hip-hop hybrid The Bomb-itty of Errors.  And he does so with much flavor in Second Thought Theatre’s fulsome and frenetic production of Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, GQ, and Erik Weiner’s modern mash-up of the Bard’s The Comedy of the Errors

Amy Corcoran (Little Shop of Horrors at WaterTower) directs this “add-rap-tation” with eyes for color and composition, and ears attuned to the breakneck rhythm involved in the show, and she uses Second Thought’s new space at Bryant Hall at the Kalita Humphreys campus with great effect to present her rhyming, neon vision. Fresh, booty-shaking music by Heath Gage and Steven Michael Walters completes the overall performance.

A four-man cast weaves this retelling of Shakespeare’s shortest play and his earliest comedy. And what a cast it is. Straight from the Land Down Under is Zac Kelty in his return to theDallasstage as Dromio of Ephesus.  Joseph Holt makes his Second Thought debut as Antipholus of Ephesus.  Second Thought ensemble member Drew Wall is Dromio of Syracuse, and the theater company’s co-artistic director Steven Michael Walters plays Antipholus of Syracuse.

A rapped prologue sets the story for those not familiar with the play: MC Egeon and his wife Betty have quadruplets, two sets of identical twins. Two are named Antipholus, and two are Dromio. Hard times force Egeon and Betty to give up their brood for adoption. Mismatched twins, Antipholus and Dromio grow up in the town ofEphesus, and the other set, Antipholus and Dromio, are raised in the town ofSyracuse. The duos grow up separate and wholly unaware of the existence of the other pair.

As adults, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse travel to Ephesus (where their respective twins live). The twins from Syracuse are poor, but single and ready to mingle. The Ephesian twins are well-to-do and well-liked in their city, and Antipholus of Ephesus is married.

In typical Shakespearean fashion: much confusion, mistaken identities, and hilarious hijinks ensue. A myriad of characters along with the brothers round out the show: a nun, a dancing cop, a shrewish wife and her ditzy sister, a Hasidic jeweler (MC Hendelberg), a Rastafarian drug dealer/doctor, a Puerto Rican hooker, and a no-rhyming bike messenger. The fact that only four actors play all these roles with busloads of verbal and physical gyrations is dizzying feat of epic (and sweaty) proportions.

It is difficult to single out any single player of this incredible ensemble; they all shine in their own moments. Whether it’s Walters as a rapping Jew, or Kelty as the tutu and blonde wig wearing dumb girl, Joseph Holt as a pink-haired, head-bobbing vamp (one of the best theater drag performances I have ever seen), or Wall as Dromi-oo-oo-ooo (catchiest name song ever!).

The play itself is like a class project that goes way beyond.  It incorporates modernized wordplay with the soul of Shakespeare’s words, if not his meter, with nods to other plays in the canon like The Taming of the Shrew, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Othello, and Romeo and Juliet, to name a few. There is something for everyone: rap references, “yo momma” jokes, audience participation, clap and sing-alongs, funky moves busted all out, effective mugging to the peeps, and a big ol’ chase scene farce.

It is one of the best versions of the play that you will see. Full disclosure: this is right in my critical and personal wheelhouse, Shakespeare and old school hip-hop, however, just about any audience should love this hilarious, musical, classical theater-esque experiment, yo.

Photo: Drew Wall in The Bomb-itty of Errors (Credit: Karen Almond)