(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/5.)
I've always thought this to be one of the most beautifully crafted farces ever written. What is refreshing is to find it given a near-perfect production by Blanche McIntyre – one that evokes its Greco-Turkish setting, is exuberantly funny and yet reminds us this is also a play about impending death and the nature of identity. Shakespeare famously ups the ante on his source by offering us two sets, rather than a single pair, of permanently confused twins. My only minor cavil about this production is that Matthew Needham as the resident Ephesian Antipholus and Simon Harrison as his visiting Syracusan counterpart look so astonishingly alike that we are sometimes as baffled as the people on stage: the trick in comedy, however, is for the audience always to be one step ahead of the game.