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Comedy of Errors

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The Comedy of Errors (an Early Comedy)
- the shortest Shakespeare play by number of lines (1777)


This play involves the separation, then reunion, of Egeon and Emelia (husband and wife); their twin sons, Antipholus of Ephesus (A.E.) and Antipholus of Syracuse (A.S.); and their twin servants, Dromio of Ephesus (D.E.) and Dromio of Syracuse (D.S.). The family is separated at sea during a storm, 33 years before the present. Egeon, A.S., and D.S. survive together and grow up in Syracuse. Seven years before the present, they decide to search, separately, for their lost family. Emelia survives with A.E. and D.E., only to have a "rude" fisherman steal the boys from her. In sorrow, she becomes a nun in the town of Ephesus. By fate, A.E. and D.E. move to Ephesus too, though they don't know of their mother Emelia. A.E. marries Adriana, and she has a sister living with them, Luciana.

Egeon comes to the city looking for his son (A.E.) and his servant (D.E.), only to be sentenced to death for entering enemy territory. Soon after, Egeon's other son, A.S., and servant, D.S., enter the city on business. The sons and the servants (both identical twins), are easily confused by the citizens of Ephesus: Angelo the goldsmith, a female Courtesan, various merchants, and Nell, Adriana's cook and fiancee to D.E. The citizens think Antipholus and Dromio have gone mad, since they get very angry and can move from place to place like magic. Doctor Pinch, a psychiatrist, even tries to get the devil out of A.E.'s body. At the hour of Egeon's execution, Egeon recognizes his son A.E., though A.E. doesn't recognize Egeon. Simultaneously, Emelia appears from the convent with A.S. and D.S., who have taken refuge there, and the family reunites. The Duke (Solinus) pardons Egeon for entering the city, A.S. begins to court Luciana for marriage, and Emelia holds a feast to rejoice the family's reunion.


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Recent Forum Posts on Comedy of Errors

Comedy of Errors

I love Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors". Why is it that not many people know about this play?

turning point

what would you say is the turning point of the play

Comedy of Errors

A good play worth reading! Funny and full of confusion! GREAT!! Rate it 10/10!!

Senior paper vs. Everyday reading.

I wrote a paper on this play for my senior paper and I have to tell you that I have never been able to write a paper with reading the book or play before however I had seen this play at a school and loved it. I recomend that everyone read watch this play or get in a group of friends and read it out loud together. This play like so many others loses a great deal when you simply read it to yourself. Shakespeares play were meant to be watched and heard, not read. Hope you all enjoy The Comedy of Errors as much as I did.

Viva Las Espheus!

If you have the means, I highly recommend seeing Comedy of Errors at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. This particular version takes place in 1950's-1960's Las Vegas! (Okay, it takes places in Espheus, but it LOOKS like Las Vegas, casinos, showgirls and all!) It's a hoot! The duke and his cronies are Jersey boys and Mafia men, Egeon, AS and DS are Texans, and the Courtesan is a feather-boa-toting showgirl! Funny, funny, FUNNY!

No Subject

I just recently preformed this play with a theatre in washington D.C. playing one of the Dromio Twins and it was a great part and great show!!! This play is kind of like the three stooges in shakespearean time. A great show!!! Id definetly recommend preforming it!

Comedy? No. Errors? Yes--in reading the play.

The Comedy of Errors is an absolutely awful play. Clearly some Shakespeare plays are written better than others, and everyone can have a bad day—but by my estimation any of the Bard's histories or tragedies are superior to any of his comedies. The plays all follow the same ridiculous formula, centered on the unbelievable and forced theme of mistaken identity. Badgering wives, idiot husbands, greedy girlfriends, argumentative servants—cut-and-dried, stock characters in absurd, stylized scenarios that defy ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’. The comedies ‘plots’ are mechanical and shamelessly idiotic. That Shakespeare would write this pathetic plotline once would be forgivable (perhaps he was under duress), but since the theme is carbon-copied throughout most of his other comedies one must truly ask…what inspired such similar, silly writing? The most remarkable thing about the comedies is that not only are the plots asinine, the writing is far inferior to his other genres—maybe the comedies played better with the common folks, while the histories found a more educated audience and he wrote them accordingly. The comedies certainly seem ‘dummied down’ by the exalted standard to which I hold the Bard. This play is particularly annoying, since it compounds its worst qualities by introducing not one, but two sets of identical twins—twice the saccharine-laced, inane complexities; double the yawns; exponential expansion of reader ennui. PLOT: A father searches for his son and is arrested. Although his character is the most compelling in the play, he’s forgotten until the last few pages. The son has a servant; both son and servant have doppelgangers and it’s a mistaken-identity carousel of predictable, farcical idiocy until the finale when—Vioila!—all is made clear, everyone gets their girl and a wretchingly happy ending is enjoyed by all. Wow—this play really stinks. Extremely one-dimensional, see-em-a-mile-away, central-casting type ‘characters’ and a ‘plot’ barely qualifying as such. Avoid this play as you would an Elizabethan urologist. Best Lines: None. Don’t go looking, either—they're not there.

No Subject

This play is really old a boring when you read the original, but if they revised it, it would robably be funny.

No Subject

This play, despite its many noticable flaws is excellent. Easily one of his best works, its a joy to perform.

No Subject

I just saw this play performed in a Mardi Gras style... It was hilarious.

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