The Comedy of Errors (~1594) by William Shakespeare

The premise of “The Comedy of Errors”, that twin brothers separated at birth of the same name also have twin servants separated of birth of the same name and eventually have their identifies confused in a series of hijinks, is amusing and absurd. There’s also some very funny lines here and there in the play, and some very witty rhyming back-and-forths. But overall, I found it comparatively weak compared to Shakespeare’s other plays. It’s a very thin, forgettable affair compared even to Shakespeare’s other comedies.

I thought “The Two Gentlemen of Verona” was also pretty thin, but it did engage with some themes and the like. I didn’t really feel that here. It all feels very surface-level. As just a funny hour or two of theatre, it does the job well, but there’s generally more expected of Shakespeare. Considering it in its context, as one of his earliest works, it makes complete sense that he’s yet to develop his style and craft to the great extent seen in his masterworks, but it’s easy to see why this play is forgotten and passed over even when counted amongst his shorter comedies.

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Seeing Shakespeare just purely try to entertain is interesting, but the play itself isn’t very iconic for good reason. The premise is funny, but it’s not one purely of his making. Still, taken just on its own terms, it’s an entertaining work. I give it three ships, and a chain.

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