Mistaken identities — check.
Slapstick humor — check.
The Las Vegas Shakespeare Company is expected to lightened the mood this year in Henderson as it presents “The Comedy of Errors” for three nights.
“If you’ve never seen Shakespeare before, this is the perfect gateway,” said Trisha Miller, one of the play’s actors.
“The Comedy of Errors” is scheduled to come the city of Henderson at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at River Mountain Park, 1941 Appaloosa Drive; Oct. 12 at Discovery Park, 2011 Paseo Verde Parkway; and Oct. 19 at Lake Las Vegas, 15 Costa di Lago.
Admission is free and open to the public.
The play centers around two sets of twins — servants and their masters from different cities — and their chaotic day in one town as their paths cross.
Director Steve Shade said the play uses dramatic irony, where the audience knows what’s happening yet the characters are still trying to figure it out.
“It’s a perfect family comedy,” Shade said. “It’s about bringing the community together.”
He compared it to a Disney movie where children will get the basic humor and adults can get the innuendos in some of the dialogue.
“It works on a level everyone can understand,” he said.
In addition to switching to comedy this year, Shade said it’s nice to dive into a Shakespeare production that isn’t typically done.
“It is one of Shakespeare’s first plays,” Shade said. “It’s also his shortest.”
He added that it’s perfect for the park setting since the events of the play take place in one day.
“So you don’t have to jump back and forth trying to piece together what’s happening,” he said.
Even though there is a lot of physical humor, Shade said he appreciates the serious themes, such as separation, isolation and a crisis of identity, that the play tries to tackle. He hopes to respect the text, which was written more than 400 years ago.
“My task is to ask what the play needs and how we can respect the text,” he said.
Shade plans to keep the humor, but he doesn’t want to have the scenes involving slapstick to be over the top that people miss some of the play’s meanings.
Miller, a Los Angeles-based actress who is playing Adriana, the wife of one of the twins, said she has been doing Shakespeare productions for many years.
“And I’ve always wanted to do this play,” she said. “I saw an open casting for it, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
She has spent the past few weeks building up her character and developing onstage relationships with co-stars, including Jesse Steccato, who is playing Antipholus of Syracuse, one of the twins.
Both have enjoyed getting into their characters.
“My character is searching for his identity,” he said. “He kind of goes through the necessary evil process of losing yourself to find yourself. It’s definitely something you can relate to.”
Along with the serious life issues, Steccato said the cast has had fun with the pairings and mispairings that come with mistaken identity.
One of Miller’s favorite moments of the play is a monologue she gives to her husband — the audience knows it’s actually his twin — on his unfaithful nature.
“She finds him on the street and confronts him,” she said. “She is chastising him, yet it’s an outpouring of her love. I think it’s one of the funniest moments of the play.”
Whether it is for a laugh, an underlying message of self-discovery or just a night out with the family, the cast thinks the play has something for everyone.
Steccato thinks that even if people have had a bad experience with Shakespeare, they should give this play a try.
“This play is tremendously fun,” he said, “and it’s free.”
For more information, visit lvshakespeare.org.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at email@example.com or 702-387-5201.