Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: The Bomb-itty of Errors

Toby Zinman recommends this hilarious rap version of Shakespeare's 'Comedy of Errors' performed by a terrific cast of four playing all the roles.

Review: The Bomb-itty of Errors


By Toby Zinman

I’m still laughing. “What’s the wherefore? / Every why got a wherefore.”
And here’s the wherefore of my laughing: The Bomb-itty of Errors, an Off-Broadway hit, then a Philly hit four years ago (nominated for seven Barrymores) is being reprised by 11th Hour Theatre Company.

Written by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Gregory J. Qaiyum,  Jeffrey Qaiyum and Erik Weiner and  (well, you didn’t expect one guy to come up with two hours worth of rhymes, did you?), the show is directed by Megan Nicole O’Brien with hilarious precision, and DJed by Mark Valenzuela.

The Shakespearean plot is ridiculous enough, but here the two sets of twins become one set of quadruplets. Plausibility is not the show’s strong suit. The absurdities of the original plot are multiplied, too, as the boys from Syracuse meet the boys from Ephesus and multiple misunderstandings ensue.

The two Antipholuses (Antipholi?) are played by Michael Philip O’Brien and David Raphaely (a new addition to the cast), while the two Dromios are played by Tom DelPizzo and Steve Pacek. They also play all the other roles — a wife, her sister, a Jewish jeweler, a Rasta medicine man, a cop, a hooker, and a hapless bike messenger who just can’t rhyme — all of which necessitates lots of quick costume changes as they dash in and out of four curtains, reappearing in wigs and a variety of bizarre get-ups (costumes designed by Holly Payne and coordinated — what a frantic backstage job that must be! — by Lauren Perigard).

The cast is terrific: All four actors are funny,  each in his own endearing and super-cute way, and they  work as a team to make the necessarily word-perfect rhyming look like reckless riffing.

What a slew of Shakespearean knockoffs we’ve had in just one week! A musical version of Henry IV (Wars & Whores), a feminist Macbeth (Lady M), an interactive Coriolanus, a gypsy grunge Twelfth Night — and now this rollicking version of Comedy of Errors.

Update: I’m still laughing.

Bomb-itty of Errors. 11th Hour Theatre Co at Adrienne Playground. Through Sept.25. Tickets $ 25.   Information:


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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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