Chicago Shakespeare Theatre presents COMEDY OF ERRORS Review — A Company in Full Bloom

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A building may look the same from season to season but inside and outside, change happens. So it is with Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, which opened the doors of its current Navy Pier home in 1999 and has since become a regional performing arts anchor.

If you’re not rushing to curtain time, you might want to stroll along the pier and enjoy the transition outside from winter to spring. The Ferris wheel revolves slowly, tourists eat fudgy wafer cones, exhibitioners take breaks from setting up their booths, skyline boats wait to begin their cruises. 

You may also want to consider the transition inside: CST founder Barbara Gaines, who directed Comedy of Errors as her last production as artistic director, will soon step down. The show has some signature Gaines’ twists, many familiar faces and an energy that hasn’t waned since she mounted her first CST production above a pub in 1986. 

The posters tell us and the opening moments verify that this Comedy of Errors, a farcical romp involving two pairs of identical twins, will push us to think about much more than comic mishaps. We’re not in Elizabethan England and we’re certainly not in the play’s mythical Mediterranean island setting. Instead, we’re at Shepperton Studios outside London during the Blitz.

As the character of Egeon recounts the separation of his twins at sea and other characters pantomime the incident, a camera crew records it in the rough newsreel style of 1940. We get the signal: This production uses Shakespeare’s play as a mattress on which to bounce another comedy. In fact, there’s an entire script by Ron West to support the conceit of making a film version of Comedy of Errors to lift spirits during wartime. The tone is wacky and the plot is complicated.

Oh, those actors. Age is tossed aside and actors with long, distinguished resumes take on youthful roles. Most notably, and for this viewer, delightfully are Ross Lehman and Kevin Gudahl as servants Dromio of Syracuse and Dromio of Ephesus. With curly wigs and plaid shirts that conjure a summer vacation package, Lehman and Gudahl pull off the mistaken-identity antics with gusto. Susan Moniz evokes Lucille Ball in her Shakespeareans scenes as the young wife Adriana, then vamps it in the Shepperton Studio scenes as the director’s discontent wife.

Seasons change and so, too, does Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Its Navy Pier complex has expanded to three venues, a far cry from its pub rooftop beginnings and a destination in its own right. Whether you need regular fixes of Shakespeare, or prefer CST’s visiting international productions, or are a fan of sensitive Sondheim revivals – or just want to savor the city’s shoreline on a night out – Chicago Shakespeare Theatre is a fine place to see a show.

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Breon Arzell David/Angelo

Adia Bell Fanny/Merchant

Melanie Brezill Alice Boggs/Luciana

Lillian Castillo Marian/Courtesan

Dan Chameroy Phil Sullivan/Antipholus of Ephesus

William Dick Charles Chittick/Second Merchant

Kevin Gudahl  Brian Hallifax/Dromio of Ephesus

Ora Jones Doris/Aemilia/Abbess

Bill Larkin Eddie Philpot/Dr. Pinch

Ross Lehman Dudley Marsh/Dromio of Syracuse

Michael E. Martin Tom/First Officer

Steve McDonagh Cyril/Nell

Russell Mernagh Patch/Balthasar

Susan Moniz Veronica Marsh/Adriana

Robert Petkoff Emerson Furbelow/Antipholus of Syracuse

Maya Vinice Prentiss Priscilla/First Merchant

Greg Vinkler Admiral Philpot/Egeon

Bruce A. Young Monty/Duke Solinus

Isabella Abel-Suarez Understudy

Michael Joseph Mitchell Understudy

Ian Reed Understudy

Jonathan Schwart Understudy


Barbara Gaines Director

James Noone Scenic Designer

Mieka van der Ploeg Costume Designer

Ken Posner Lighting Designer

Lindsay Jones Composer & Sound Designer

Richard Jarvie Hair & Make Up Designer

Larry Yando Verse Coach

Charlotte Rivard-Hoster Music Director

Peter G. Andersen Associate Director

Gregory Geffrard Intimacy Director

Bruce A. Young Fight Choreographer

Kathy Logelin Dialect Coach

Martine Kei Green-Rogers Dramaturg

Courtney Abbott Assistant Intimacy Director

Katrina Herrmann Production Stage Manager

Elisabeth Schapmann Assistant Stage Manager


March 9 - April 16, 2023


Shakespeare Theater
Navy Pier800 East Grand Avenue



For more information and tickets visit the Chicago Shakespeare Theater website.

Photos: Liz Lauren

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Susan Lieberman
Susan Lieberman

About the Author: Susan Lieberman

Susan Lieberman is a Jeff-winning playwright, journalist, teacher and script consultant who commits most of her waking hours to Chicago theatre. Her radio drama In the Shadows aired on BBC Radio 4 last season.

Editor's Note: Click here to find more Picture This Post reviews by Susan Lieberman

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