1700. 55. 4. These are the figures behind the productions of Shakespeare at Curium, annual plays which have gone down in island legend…
1700 is the age of the amphitheatre – roughly speaking! Originally built in in the second century BC, the majority of the current venue dates from the Roman period between 300 and 400AD. 55 is the number of years the Shakespeare at Curium productions have been taking place: first launched in 1962, the annual performance has spent only two years removed from its titular location (during the renovation of the theatre, the annual performances were moved to Pissouri in 2002 and the Limassol Municipal Gardens in 2003). And four is the number of times this year’s play has been chosen to headline. Well including 2017 anyway…
“This year will be the fourth time A Comedy of Errors has been performed at Curium,” reveals director Colin Garland, who was behind both the 2007 and 1995 versions (though not the version produced in 1978). “And though it doesn’t hold the record” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream has headlined at Curium six times over the years, and Twelfth Night on five occasions – “it’s always gone down very well in the past.”
One of the earliest, and easily the shortest of Shakespeare’s plays – “which might have an appeal for some audiences,” laughs Colin – A Comedy of Errors is basically a modernised adaptation of Menaechmi by Plautus. But with plenty of slapstick, farce, word play and puns delighting audiences to this day, this is one play which has truly stood the test of time.
Telling the story of two sets of identical twins accidentally separated at birth, this is Shakespeare at – as the title suggests – his comic best, revelling in a wild series of mishaps which lead to beatings, a near-seduction, wrongful arrests, and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness and demonic possession! “It’s typical Shakespeare: identical twins, mistaken identities, and all set in a city with a reputation for sorcery,” Colin confides.
Taking place in the city of Ephesus, the plot details the arrival of Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, in what audiences quickly clock as the home town of their identical twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. Cue high jinks and palavers all round, with a host of side-splitting lines (Dromio stating his mistress is “spherical, like a globe” and proceeding to find countries in her being a particular favourite!)
With a relatively small cast of 15 main characters and a handful of extras, and three months of rehearsals under the belt, the final result (which will hit the stage on June 23, 24 and 25) promises to be a jolly evening’s entertainment for all. “It’s a really good laugh, and Curium audiences always seem to enjoy A Comedy of Errors: it’s short but nevertheless highly amusing,” says Colin, adding that producing this annual event is also a most enjoyable process for those involved.
“It’s great fun to do, our rehearsals – which take place at Foley’s School in Limassol, thanks to its founders who were themselves very involved in past Shakespeares – are always a laugh, and both the cast and crew have done a brilliant job, for which I’m extremely grateful. A lot of the stage business can be quite challenging, but I do enjoy that; perhaps the fact that I’ve directed the play on two previous occasions gives me some inkling of how I’d like it to come across, and that does help.”
For those who are wondering, this is typical Shakespeare – which means everything ends well, all the errors are sorted out, and everyone can head home with a smile. “I do hope audiences will enjoy the play,” Colin concludes. “I love putting on something that delights – nothing pleases me more than audience reaction! It’s a great play, in a wonderful setting. There can’t be many venues in the world which compare: high up on the cliff top, fantastic views, the sun setting in the background – it’s pure magic.”
Oh, and here’s a bonus number for those who like to know what really counts: 1,000,000… The amount in euros raised and donated to local charities by the Shakespeares at Curium over the last 55 years. Island legend? Yes, without a doubt. For so many reasons!
A Comedy of Errors
At Curium at 8pm on June 23, 24 and 25. Tickets cost €15 (adults) and €5 (students) and are available at Curium on the night, Kyriakou Bookshops (Limassol, Paphos), Friends’ Hospice shops (Pissouri, Paphos), Bookends, Dodge City, Episkopi Garrison and [email protected] For more information call 99 990535 or visit the Facebook page ‘Shakespeare at Curium’ or www.shakespeareatcurium.com. Audience members may bring a picnic to enjoy outside the amphitheatre; cushions can also be brought from home or rented at Curium