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Theater review: 'The Comedy of Errors' at A Noise Within

March 10, 2011 | 12:30 pm

Comedy Michael Michetti rates four big stars- – or make that four plump rubber chickens -– for his  inventive staging of “The Comedy of Errors” at a Noise Within.  The action is set in a 1920s-era burlesque theater, and it’s a match made in heaven. 

Call this “The Night They Raided the Old Globe,” with fast-patter passages that sound like iambic pentameter Abbott and Costello routines.  Shakespeare’s bagatelle about double sets of twins separated in infancy who are confusingly reunited in adulthood is essentially a protracted gag that can wear thin unless cleverly handled.  Fortunately, Michetti and a dream cast keep the pace brisk and the humor deliciously low. 

All the actors snap out their dialogue like seasoned vaudevillians who are late for a train. “Matinee idol” Bruce Turk plays both the Antipholus roles, while Jerry Kernion, who can take a mean prat fall, plays both Dromios.  (How Michetti handles the twins’ final reunion is a particular delight.)

Abby Craden plays the sultry, shrewish Adriana; Annie Abrams is her comically angelic sister, Luciana.  As Duke Solinus, William Dennis Hunt has mock dignity and solid comic timing.  Gibby Brand, possibly the most unlikely actor in Equity to don drag, garners big laughs as both a concupiscent kitchen maid and a saintly abbess. Betty Boop look-alike Lauren Robyn plays the Courtesan with a New York twang that could etch glass.  Other notables among the sprawling cast include Michael Stone Forrest, Paul D. Masterson, P.J. Ochlan, Rene Ruiz and Andrew Dits.

The design elements -- Kurt Boetcher’s set,  Elizabeth Harper’s lighting and Angela Balogh Calin’s costumes –- evoke a convincingly vintage burlesque venue.  Not only does David Bickford contribute period piano music, but he also produces live sound effects.  He’s the busiest guy in the show, and he never misses a beat.

-- F. Kathleen Foley

“The Comedy of Errors,” A Noise Within, 234 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Runs in repertory; see www.anoisewithin.org for schedule. Ends May 14. $42 and $46. (818) 240-0910 Ext. 1. Running time: 2 hours.

Photo: Gwenmarie White, Lauren Robyn, Christine Breihan.  Credit: Craig Schwartz.

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