Shakespeare's Globe

RSS Rehearsal 1

It's the first week of rehearsals and Bill talks about his initial impressions of the play and his two characters.

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Time: 4 minutes, 13 seconds

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Transcript of Podcast

Can you summarise The Comedy of Errors in 30 seconds?

Ok, basically there are two sets of twins. One set of twins is called Antipholus and the other set are called Dromio. The Antipholus twins are both masters and the Dromios are servants, and neither set of twins have met each other. The play is about one set of twins, Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio, on a quest to find the other Antipholus, his other brother. And that’s basically what it’s about. And, in the end, after much confusion and mistaken identity, they do meet each other, both sets of twins meet each other.

What three words would you use to describe the play?

Well, at the moment it’s a little bit biased because I have just started rehearsals, so at the moment it feels funny, crazy, actually quite moving I think as well; it’s a quality I wasn’t sure I was going to find in this play because it is so funny and it is so complex and crazy.

What challenges are you finding playing two similar yet dissimilar characters?

In essence it’s about a man looking for his long lost twin. And then if you look at it from the other twin’s point of view, and I’m playing both of them, it’s quite interesting to feel the difference between the two. It’s the thing that you go off as one and literally come straight back on as the other person. It’s trying to find the physical differences between them, I suppose, the way that they hold themselves. And I suppose it would be pretty boring if one person was playing those roles exactly the same, just have a change of costume. I mean I’ve known identical twins and I know that there are a lot of similarities, but also they are their own person too and they have their own things that make them tick and character traits. And actually they are very well defined in the play; Shakespeare makes them really quite different. And so at the moment I am really trying to focus on those differences, you know, on one level Syracuse is more open, he’s on the quest, he’s on the search, he’s more sort of open to the world because he is on the quest looking for his brother. Whereas the other Antipholus of Ephesus is a man who is completely self made, he’s never met his father, he’s never met his mother, he’s never met his brother, he’s been on his own in the world and has had to build himself up, and very successfully too. What’s interesting to discover is how he’s done that and how he’s developed and, you know, at the moment I’m finding him to be a little bit more closed, and a bit more assertive, and maybe a bit more blinkered to the world.

How important is the back-story for your two characters?

Certainly, for me as the actor playing both of them, I’ve really tried to look at those back stories and think about how they’ve developed to help make those differences between them. Yes, I think it is very important. In some ways you might look at them as opposites of each other, that together they make a whole person. But on their own they’re incomplete; they need each other to balance each other out.

What relationships are important to your characters?

It’s very interesting to see how they differ in their relationships with their respective Dromios. Certainly, when we see them in this play, Antipholus of Syracuse, his Dromio feels almost more like a brother in some ways; they have a close relationship, they make each other laugh a lot, although they are still master and servant and Dromio still does stuff for him, it’s a bit more relaxed. It’s almost the exact opposite with the other ones which is interesting but they still need their Dromios very much, be it for just doing stuff for them and being a companion, I suppose. I think after that, it’s weird because we see Syracuse on his own, he left his father many years ago on the search for his mother and his brother, so by the end of that it’s clear that he’s close to his father. His father’s been searching for him, but in the play the most important relationship for Syracuse is Dromio. And I think with Ephesus, obviously Dromio of course is important to him, Adriana as well, who he’s treated pretty appallingly but at the same time I think they’re reconciled at the end and hopefully with meeting his brother he’ll change his ways perhaps; he’ll discover a little bit more calmness within him and that relationship will get back on track. Interestingly enough, I think his relationship with the Duke is very important too. Although we don’t really see much of them together, except in the last scene, in fact that’s the only time we see them together, the Duke has been somewhat of a mentor to him; he’s the one who matched him with Adriana and who has helped him in Ephesus and obviously that relationship is important and I’m looking forward to exploring that.

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