Historians believe that Shakespeare wrote “The Comedy of Errors” between 1592 and 1594.
Watching “The Bomb-itty of Errors,” the smart, funny, hip-hop adaptation of the play at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison, one might easily believe it is being written before their very eyes.
Christopher V. Edwards directs with a freshness that makes the madcap events of the play sparkle like the chrome spinning rims on a polished stretch Escalade.
Hip-hop upon Avon?
The play’s the bling.
There’s one set of twins, both named Antipholus, and another set of twins, both named Dromio. The Dromios are servants to the Antipholi.
When they are separated — one Antipholus and one Dromio to Syracuse the other Antipholus and Dromio to Ephesus — life goes on. Years later, when the Syracusans land in Ephesus, they are mistaken for their twins and the slapstick begins.
(In “Comedy,” a tempest splits the twins; in “Bomb-itty,” their widowed mom puts them in foster care. The Antipholi grow to be DJ’s.)
OK, you have to buy the unlikely separated-twins scenario, but the reward is a rollicking roller-coaster of mistaken identity, set to a beat-boxing score.
“Bomb-itty” has a script by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Gretogy Qaiyum and Erik Weiner, but Edwards and his worthy band of accomplices are making it their own.
The evening’s DJ, Christopher Joshua McCardle, spins the tunes from a scaffold platform, and a backstage crew of quick-change experts get the four actors in and out of Melissa Daghini’s wonderful costumes.
“Bomb-itty” will remind some of last season’s “Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” in which the cast of four presented the entire canon. But this one has long stretches of beat-box songs which, while not Shakespeare, put a premium on beat-perfect delivery.
Actors Michael Borrelli, Wayne T. Carr, Patrick Halley and Cortlandt’s own Christian Jacobs don’t miss a beat, creating a host of characters so fully realized that one wonders where they are when the curtain call arrives.
Halley plays the loyal Dromio of Ephesus, the chocolate-smeared blonde dimwit Luciana (who can’t remember her own name) and a crass donut-toting cop. Each is real, believable and fully formed.
The note-perfect Carr, in a fine HVSF debut, is Antipholus of Ephesus and his suspicious wife, Adriana. Later, he’s the dimwitted bike messenger Bobby who’d love to rap but can’t find the rhyme.
Jacobs is the hard-working and loyal Dromio of Syracuse, who can’t understand why his master asks him to do things then undo them. (He’s serving two masters, you see.) Later, he’s the hairy but irresistible Latina courtesan Desi and the Rasta-man conjurer Dr. Pinch, two characters Jacobs delivers with a gleam in his eye and complete conviction.
Jacobs, a Lakeland High School graduate who was an apprentice in “Cymbeline” in 2008, joins the company this year as a player. Read a 2008 interview with Christian Jacobs.
Borrelli plays the earnest Antipholus of Syracuse, then turns on a dime to play the Hasidic jeweler Rabbi Hendelberg (think Phil Silvers) and then the abbess who gives a nod to LeBron James. (Yes, you read that right.)
Borrelli — so memorable as the slow-witted Cloten in “Cymbeline” and as Pander in last year’s “Pericles” — has one of the night’s high points: a 7-minute-plus “yo-mama” joke disguised as a shaggy-dog story that takes us all over the Lower Hudson Valley and includes an encounter with “Skaswatch.”
The evening might be rated PG for some language, and would make an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for a twentysomething.
To watch Borrelli spin his story is to remember why summers at Boscobel are a thing to be cherished: He takes us all for that crazy ride, the memory of which will no doubt warm a winter’s night and transport us to a worn spot of earth beneath a lovely tent.
If this production were any fresher, you’d slap it.
What: “The Bomb-itty of Errors”
Where: Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Route 9D, Garrison.
When: Now open. Running in repertory with “Troilus and Cressida” and “The Taming of the Shrew.” Festival closes Sept. 5. Check out the HVSF 2010 calendar.
Tickets: In June, July and September, $32 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, $38 on Fridays and Sundays, $45 on Saturdays. In August, $34 on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, $40 on Fridays and Sundays, $47 on Saturdays.
Next: “The Taming of the Shrew” opens June 26; “Troilus and Cressida” opens July 3.
Photos by William Marsh: Top, Michael Borrelli, left, as Antipholus of Syracuse and Christian Jacobs as the courtesan Desi in “The Bomb-itty of Errors” at Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison. Bottom, Wayne T. Carr, left, as Adriana and Patrick Halley as Luciana.