Hallo! I'm Fergal McElherron, and I'm playing the Dromios (of Ephesus and Syracuse) in this year's touring production of The Comedy of Errors.
Transcript of Podcast
Hallo! I'm Fergal McElherron, and I'm playing the Dromios (of Ephesus and Syracuse) in this year's touring production of The Comedy of Errors. Although it’s a revival, I'm new to the cast this year and I didn’t even manage to see it last year, so I have no frame of reference for the show. Rebecca Gatward, our director, has been great because she is treating it as if she is getting another go, that it’s not just a rehash. She made it clear that she wasn’t going to tell us what they did last year, but that for certain scenes, she might nudge us in a particular direction. So, for example, the ‘door scene’: they spent a week on that scene alone last year. There was no point in us just reinventing it for the sake of reinventing it, because it worked and I can't think of a better way of doing it. And it bought us a week of rehearsal time!
The advantage of one actor plating both Dromios is that we can concentrate on the differences between them, whereas with two actors you’d be trying to make each other similar enough that it would be believable twins – obviously I don’t have to worry about looking like myself! The Syracusan Dromio seems very innocent and Tom [Mothersdale, Antipholous] and I decided that he wasn’t beaten as much, he’s not as downtrodden and so they’re kind of friends. Even though there still is that master / servant role, they’ve been travelling around for seven years, so it isn’t just me just carrying his bags. We’ve been discovering places together. The other big difference between the Dromios is that the Syracusans know that they have twin brothers, so we both know what the void is in our lives, whereas the Antipholus and Dromio from Ephesus don’t know they have a twin.
The first venue I get to write about is Headingham Castle in Sussex. I’d actually been here previously, on the Globe tour of The Winter’s Tale (2008), so when we arrived on that first day I felt like I was back, That changed things a bit as it was exactly as I’d remembered it and the audience were just as warm and just as up for it as when we did it three years ago.
It’s a blocky stone castle, the area is surrounded by trees and it’s on a height so beyond the trees, the ground drops down onto paths to walk through the woods, so it feels secluded. There was a kind of a dip in the grounds and we were nestled in with this gorgeous backdrop of this old ruin behind us. Weather-wise, it was beautiful, so warm. You sometimes worry about the audience being blinded by the sun, and I’d far rather it was us as actors as we’re on and off and moving around, but I think they were fine.
I think the audience can change quite a lot with touring shows. One day you might get an audience that are really, really giddy, just really up for it, and then another day you might get an audience where they’re just really listening really closely and they’re loving it but they’re just not as vocal about it. What’s also been lovely is that for me, it feels the audiences are here as a very deliberate thing. I think coming to the Globe, some people come for the building as much as you come for the plays. And as I say Headingham felt quite remote, so I have no idea how far away some of these people were driving from – it’s brilliant!
Next stop another castle, this time Herstmonceux, but I’ll be back soon to talk about Emmanuel College, Oxford.