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Whack-a-Bard

Everywhere you look: Shakespeare!

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TO ERROR IS HUMAN Jared Wright, left, and William J. Brown get confused in ‘Comedy of Errors.’
  • TO ERROR IS HUMAN Jared Wright, left, and William J. Brown get confused in ‘Comedy of Errors.’

Like an Elizabethan game of whack-a-mole, as soon as one North Bay theater company knocks out an outdoor summer Shakespeare production, another one pops up.

The Petaluma Shakespeare Company presents its Shakespeare by the River Festival with two shows this year—All's Well That Ends Well and an original production, by Jacinta Gorringe, called Speechless Shakespearethrough Sept. 2.

Marin's Curtain Theatre presents Henry IV, Part One at the Old Mill Park in Mill Valley through Sept. 9, and Santa Rosa's 6th Street Playhouse closes out its season with The Comedy of Errors, one of Shakespeare's earliest and mercifully shortest plays (merciful, as it gets mighty cold in the Cannery after the sun goes down).

The Comedy of Errors tells the tale of two sets of twins—masters and servants—separated by shipwreck who, years later, come together in the city of Ephesus, thoroughly confusing wives, mistresses, merchants and each other. The basic plot isn't very original—Shakespeare "borrowed" it from a couple of even earlier plays—but it is entertaining.

Director Jared Sakren has gathered a group of quality actors who all seem to be having fun with their roles. William Brown and Ariel Zuckerman are the masters who share the moniker Antipholus while Jared Wright and Sam Coughlin each play a servant named Dromeo. They find themselves dealing with a bewildered wife (Jessica Headington), her supportive sister (Isabella Sakren), a doctor (Eyan Dean) who diagnoses demonic possession and an abbess (Jill Wagoner) who is just this side of Misery's Annie Wilkes before everything is sorted out in the end.

Colorful Victorian-era costumes (that's when it's set) by Pamela Johnson add to the jovial tone of the show, and there is some excellent physical comedy by Wright and Coughlin as the put-upon servants.

It's a silly show done seriously (if occasionally a bit too intensely), but overall, it's an amusing way to bring summer theater to a close.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

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