The Comedy of Errors

The Comedy of Errors

Botanic Gardens Glasgow

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Marianne Gunn

AS THE opener of their 'What We May Be' season, Shakespeare's shortest play sets the tone for what the Bard in the Botanics company set out to investigate this summer: identity, nationality and leadership. National and personal identity are artfully explored in The Comedy of Errors, helped by the dramatic plot of two rival nations and two sets of "identical" twins.

Directed by Gordon Barr, the action kicks off with a live rendition of No Mean City (best known as the Taggart theme tune) before a largely laborious opening scene lays out the pretty preposterous plot set in the exotic-sounding Ephesus and Syracuse. The tartan stylings of Carys Hobbs' costume design immediately add a frisson of referendum rhetoric and suggest a relevance not always so overt through the dialogue (the over-styled hair-dos also add an element of cartoonish fun, similarly the Mondrian-esque primary colour overload of the senses).

The double act of James Ronan and Robert Elkin (as Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse) means the practically panto-like action is in very safe hands. The farcical situations (cue gas gags and even the Benny Hill theme tune) are also played out convincingly by the further members of the cast - Nicole Cooper's wailing wifie Adriana is worth a special mention, as is Kirk Bagé's scene-stealing performance as conjuror Dr. Pinch.

The second act does descend a little into nonsense territory, especially the tritely tidy denouement, although the Scottish music selection (Eurythmics, Rod Stewart and The Proclaimers) keeps the biting cold of the Botanics at bay through the tartan-tapping of toes. As is always advisable, bring a blanket, insect repellent and a cushion for your bahookie before the run ends on Saturday 12 July.