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I remember seeing this program on a now-defunct PBS station, KQEC in San Francisco. That was back in 1987, the Reagan-Yuppie years. The performers were speaking Shakesperean lines but, unlike dramatic actors, were purposely screwing up his words with glee. Then the more I watched, the more I enjoyed it and waited for PBS to air it again. It was part of a Great Performances "Live from Lincoln Center" production and I was lucky enough to see it in its entirety. Since then, I became an instant Flying Karamazov fan and have followed their progress. What an amazing cast of talent in the show; jugglers, baton twirlers, acrobats, fire-eaters and so forth. If Shakespeare ever saw this adaptaion of his light comedy, he would be spinning in his grave, with hilarity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll just echo the other comments made on this production. I too saw it
Great Performances Live from the Lincoln Center. A hilarious modern take
"Comedy of Errors" with some juggleing thrown in :-)
I'm not sure whether one could call this a sendup or not of Shakespeare, as the cast remains true to the play in terms of plot and story. That is the fun that's poked at Shakespeare is done out of love for the play's author, and also an attempt to modernize and revive the comic spirit and impact originally intended in the play.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS; One of my favorite parts is the intermission. A group of scholars and theatre critics start off on a serious discussion of the play, which then breaks down into a verbal brawl :-) Very funny stuff.
My other favorite part is the fun made of the Children's Television Workshop (CTW), where one of the brothers appears with a Big Bird puppet on his hand, and counts to the number five, as if teaching the audience how to count (he's really acting as a live koo-koo clock, sounding that's five o'clock)..... I guess you had to be there :-) SPOILERS OFF
Reading the other reviews I'm sorry to hear that this particular performance isn't commercially available. I'll also add that I thought about posting a review here some time ago, but I wasn't sure if this was the same performance I saw many years ago. Based on that, and the number of reviews that appear here, I don't know how many people would be interested in a VHS or DVD copy of this version of Comedy of Errors. I know I would :-) But that's just me.
Anyway, if you ever get a chance to see this gem do so! It's still Shakespeare, and there're no flatulance or groin-kicking jokes for those of you with low sensibilities in terms of humor, but there's been a good and succesful attempt to revitalize antiquated comedy.
And if you do get your hands on a copy let the rest of us know about it! :-)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My brother recorded this when it aired 25 years ago in '87 and as he
got rid of his tapes, I managed to secure a few and found Comedy of
Errors among them, to my delight.
It is still funny and interesting, as the performers, American (or Canadian, we'll say non-English) recite the dialogue, attempt no emphasis (or maybe they do) then suddenly will gave way to present-day words.
Even more impressive is the slant at insults, such as when the maid refuses to allow her boyfriend in, thinking his twin is her man, same for the wife, who inadvertently ends up insulting her own husband.
It was truly a brilliant production. Whatever took place during the intermission, I think I recall it, but my brother didn't record it, as he thought it would be serious and dull.
There are dated references such as a sign saying "Ollie says So" in regards to Oliver North, Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" and even a small quip about a fellow on roller skates not getting into Starlight Express.
While the entire cast was wonderful, the two scene-stealers are definitely Karla Burns as the maid, Luce (the cast played several roles as she is listed) and Ethyl Eichelberger, who played a loose woman and Amelia, the twin boys' mother. Eichelberger is truly a creature to behold in this era of Boy George and Culture Club.
Very dismayed to see he killed himself three years after this performance, but the 80s and early 90s were not known for being kind to alternative lifestyles such as his.
One of my truly favorite bits is the wife (who reminded me of a girl I knew in high school) and the loose woman, debating over the wife's husband having a gold necklace and then the other woman says he took a ring from her finger. The two performers are clearly reciting Shakespeare.
Wife: "Maybe so but I did never see it!" They then turn from each other, "What a bitch!" "Oooh, she's such a bitch!" Offering translation. Much of the play runs like this.
In truth, knowing the deal with the actors from 25 years ago, it seemed more confusing to me now, as none of the guys playing the twins really remotely looked alike (the Dromios each had light brown beards and dressed the same) it still became difficult to tell which twin had been where, who had the ring, who had the necklace and who was married to the woman.
I'll have to sit and watch it better some time soon.
I've since made a copy and given it to someone who would like to comprehend Shakespeare and hopefully this will be a good place to start with translations.
I recall having seen this MANY years ago...no one else seems to have seen this in my circle of friends and family. I had nearly convinced myself that this wonderfully bizarre program had never been. At a certain point in time, my friends actually refused to believe that LIVE from LINCOLN CENTER would even produce something that sounded so outlandish. The fact that it has hung in my memory for over 20 years is testament to the power of its comedy. That and the fact I was an impressionable young girl could have something to do with it. I, too, would dearly love a copy of this performance. I have contacted the official site of the Flying Karamazov Brothers and, hopefully, I will have some answer as to video/DVD availability
This is the most enjoyable episode of Live From Lincoln Center that I have
ever seen. My copy of the tape is long gone and I'd love to get another.
I spoke with one of the cast members two or three years ago. He indicated that the production is not available commercially, although he'd certainly like to see that situation change. Perhaps contacting the producers of Live From Lincoln Center?
If you ever have a chance to watch this, do! It's fun, it's hysterical... and it seems out of availability. If you ever find a place to get a copy, drop me a line - I'd love to snag a copy myself! The juggling is wonderful, they actually do justice to the original script. Will wonders never cease?
The Flying Karamazov Brothers take their cue in this performance from a line
in Act I, Scene II: "They say this town is full of cozenage, As, nimble
jugglers that deceive the eye, Dark working sorcerers..." On the strength
of this (and the fact that they are a juggling troupe rather than
traditional Shakespearean actors) every character in the play juggles.
Despite this, they leave the text of the play almost unchanged. The result
is a hilarious adaptation of this masterpiece of comedy, which centers
around a man and his slave who don't realize that they are in the same town
as their twin brothers. (That's right, they EACH have a
With a premise as odd as this, the zaniness of the FKB adds to the comedic value of the play without detracting from the plot (such as it is.) My favorite part is the performance of Alec Willows, who plays both Angelo the goldsmith, and the Second Merchant, to whom Angelo is a debtor. Dressed on one side as the goldsmith (in a gold lame' suit) and on the other side as the second merchant, he jumps back and forth (literally) while arguing with himself in two different voices so convincingly you really see two people!
The only problem I've had is that I wore out my tape, and I can't find a place to get a new copy...
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