the comedy of errors 

maynardville open air theatre | cape town | 2012

 

A venerable Cape Town institution, the 57-year old annual summer season at the Maynardville Open-Air Theatre, received a thorough shake-up when Matthew was engaged to direct his Shakespeare play in early 2012. With a predominantly young cast of strong comic actors, the production looked to 1970s martial arts films to satisfy the play’s scenes of physical comedy and slapstick, turning the threatening locale of Ephesus into a whimsical Chinatown. With bold, colour-blocked designs chosen to create a strong impact in a large amphitheatre, the raucously post-modern production was a hit with critics and audiences alike.

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AWARDS:

 

Fleur du Cap Award for Best Costume Design: Angela Nemov 

Fleur du Cap Nomination for Best Director: Matthew Wild

Fleur du Cap Nomination for Best Lighting Design: Kobus Rossouw

 

PRESS:

 

“William Shakespeare meets B-grade Kung Fu movies in this year’s production of The Comedy of Errors at Maynardville Open-Air Theatre. It has all the ingredients: bold colours, imaginative fight sequences, cheesy sound effects, gratuitous beatings and overdone accents. In short, it’s great fun. The ancient town of Ephesus is brought to life with Angela Nemov’s bright building-block set and an upbeat soundtrack including songs like ‘One Night in Bangkok’ and ‘Big in Japan’. A clever touch is having DJ Nieke Lombard on stage throughout, looking down on the proceedings from a window and providing not only the beats, but also the sound-effects in the form of traditional swooshes, doefs and clangs ... Director Matthew Wild explains in the programme that the idea behind setting the story within the genre of a 1970s martial arts film stemmed from the fact that it needed to be a city in which “the foreign characters perceive a great deal of danger, mystery, magic and ‘otherness’”. It also lent itself to the slapstick and farcical elements held within Shakespeare’s text ... Apart from being a zany take on a classic script, this production is also beautifully put together. There are some stunning tableaus and graceful choreography. The almost unrelenting presence of silent, faceless merchants adds to the growing feeling of unease and foreboding ... Overall it’s a cheeky look at one of the bard’s earliest and shortest, plays, with heaps of imagination stirred in for maximum effect. There’s also a panda, of course.” CAPE TIMES

 

“ ... a hit production! Potentially dry dialogue is enlivened by colourful and graphic displays which animate the storyline and clarify the complicated plot ... Retro 80s pop-themed music (with DJ) provides the soundscape between scenes. Full marks for costume design which features yards of glossy silk in bright primary colours along with Japanese manga-inspired outfits. The weird and wildly unscripted choreography actually works brilliantly and Adriana's lewd-yet-ungainly fan-dance has got to be the funniest piece of ad lib cabaret ever! This year's Shakespeare play at Maynardville breathes new life into the annual tradition and is the best thing I've seen in this vein since Baz Luhrman rewrote the book on Romeo and Juliet. All credit to director Matthew Wild for his inspired take on a difficult play. A must see!” CHANNEL24

 

“This Comedy of Errors is rollicking fun ... For his debut at the Maynardville Open Air Theatre, innovative director Matthew Wild has pulled together a pastiche of popular Western notions of the "East" to frame this Shakespearean farce about mistaken identity. With 1970s kung fu movies, pop hits such as Charles Douglas's disco dance tune ‘Kung Fu Fighting’, Alphaville's 1984 ‘Big in Japan’, David Bowie's 1983 ‘China Girl’ as well as a few references to contemporary animation (the adorable actor in the panda suit lolling about the stage), Wild brings a kitsch, young and playful edge to one of Shakespeare' s earliest plays” SUNDAY TIMES

 

“I'm of the firm belief that Shakespeare's plays can and must travel. That being, through space and time. The Bard invites us to play with the imagery of his work and above all, and where appropriate, have fun doing it. Director Matthew Wild has certainly accomplished that in this year's The Comedy of Errors at Maynardville. But in every sense, who could expect anything less? His recent productions of the operas Il viaggio a Reims (Rossini) and The Rake's Progress (Stravinsky / Auden) are witness to his ability to conceive of something just a little off the wall, when working with texts considered classical ... I'm convinced that William Shakespeare would not only approve, he would relish the experience and certainly be enamoured of the fact that his text has travelled so far, and so well ... I was never a fan of the seventies kung-fu or martial arts film genre, except maybe for a brief spell when at about age fourteen, I went through a very brief period of Bruce Lee admiration ... But here, Matthew Wild has used the genre, adapted it to the stage and with extraordinary creative zeal, made it work. The set is a kaleidoscope of colour. The lighting is bright and effused with all the right colour tones. At opening we are greeted by a giant panda emerging from a bamboo grove. This all sets the tone for a romp through Shakespearian comedy as many will never have experienced ... ” MONDAY MISSILE

 

“Matthew Wild leads a relatively young and nicely diverse cast in his first directing adventure at Maynardville Open-Air Theatre. It is a testimony to his choices both in casting and direction that many people were heard to say “The best Maynardville I have seen in years!” as they left the theatre last night. Wild has taken The Comedy of Errors to a fairy tale location with an Oriental overtone for this farce. With a slight tip of the hat to 70’s martial arts films from Hong Kong, Wild is able to establish a platform for the play’s comedy, sincerity and message to be portrayed in a way that is very accessible to many. The authenticity of the setting is complete with white rabbit sweets and the lanterns that were draped all around the venue as you walked in was a really lovely touch.” YOURSOAPBOX

 

“Enter Maynardville Park by the main gates any evening this week and you’d be forgiven for thinking Cape Town had a new Chinatown. I thought the idea of this season’s Shakespeare in the Park, The Comedy of Errors, being inspired by 1970s kung fu films was merely a whimsical one, but director Matthew Wild confirms the choice was a carefully considered one: “Here is a genre in which the tone may switch very rapidly from slapstick to genuine danger to romance… a world in which Shakespeare’s gender politics make sense and, most crucially, a cultural reference which resonates strongly with a wide cross-section of South Africans.” And it works brilliantly ... a show bursting with energy, top notch acting and a lot of laughs.” WHATSONINCAPETOWN

 

“Verbeel jou koeng foe so reg uit ’n Bruce ­Lee-fliek; Uma Thurman in haar goudgeel sweetpakkie in Kill Bill; die vlieënde vegters van Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; en die kostelike appelswaaiers van Kung Fu Panda. Voeg daarby Shakespeariaanse Engels in ­aksente van hier tot daar, én ’n Babelse ­verwarring oor twee stelle tweelinge. Te dik vir ’n daalder? Wel, dalk. Maar dis presies wat die regisseur Matthew Wild met die Bard se The Comedy of Errors doen. Dié klugtige komedie is vanjaar se Shakespeare-produksie in die Maynardville-opelugteater en in Wild se hande word dit iets soos daardie koeng foe-flieks wat in die 1970’s en 1980’s so gewild was. The Comedy of Errors is ’n vroeë komedie van Shakespeare en sy kortste ... Wild – wat al opera met groot sukses van die klassieke na popkultuur verplaas het – was slim om die absurditeite van Shakespeare se komedie met ’n ewe absurde genre soos koeng foe-flieks te vermeng ... Die stel herinner aan kleurvolle Oosterse argitektuur met ronde lanterns oral in die bome.” DIE BURGER

 

“Crouching tiger, hidden soliloquies. That is what this version of The Comedy of Errors offers. In what has been called “The Bard meets Bruce Lee”, Shakespeare’s comedy is given a face-lift - one that includes kicks through the air and fists to the face. And we like it ... The scenes are fast-paced, tight and, of course, together Cairns and Van Vuuren are a riot.” CAPE ARGUS

 

“Angela Nemov’s set served its ends brilliantly and she let loose when it came to outfitting the cast in retro 1970s gear replete with silk shorts, high cut denims and platform shoes. From a 2012 perspective, this in itself leans to comedy, making the actors’ task of raising a laugh that much easier ... Standouts were, as expected, James Cairns and Rob van Vuuren as the servant twins Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse, the pair providing most of the comedy among the errors with spot-on timing. Nicholas Pauling and Andrew Laubscher as Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus did a superb job, with Laubscher’s raging frustration at being the butt of the increasing litany of misunderstandings particularly entertaining.” CITYPRESS