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The Comedy of Errors

The company of The Comedy of Errors (Photo:  Peter Cooper)

The Comedy of Errors

By Deirdre Donovan

The Mobile Unit’s bilingual musical adaptation of The Comedy of Errors has been taken out of mothballs from last summer’s staging and is traveling to the city’s parks throughout the five boroughs. Directed and choreographed by Rebecca Martínez, this tale of separation and reunion is as rib-tickling as ever.

Gían Pérez, Michael Castillejos, and Joél Acosta (Photo: Peter Cooper)

On the steamy Tuesday evening I attended a performance, the Mobile Unit’s touring troupe had pitched camp at Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The show began at 6:30 p.m., with enough daylight still remaining to see panoramic views of New York harbor and the Manhattan skyline from the park’s lawn. 

The play began with the company parading over the lawn, dressed in colorful attire (costumes by Lux Haac) and beating buckets and pans to announce their arrival. When they finally stepped onto the stage, they paused beating on their makeshift instruments, and a performer intoned: ”Our story starts now!”

Joél Acosta (Photo:  Peter Cooper)

The company didn’t disappoint! The wonderfully absurd tale of the two sets of identical twins separated at birth in a shipwreck and reunited years later is as entertaining as ever. Acosta performed both of the Antipholuses and Gían Pérez performed both of the Dromios. Of course, what really steals the show is their hat trick.  With a sleight-of-hand, and a 180-degree turn, both Acosta and Pérez shift from being Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse to their Ephesus counterparts by changing this hat to that hat, and then that hat to this hat.

This Comedy of Errors is family-friendly. The audience’s age range seemed to be from 4 to 94.  Those who came early to the performance were in luck too, as the Mobile Unit staff members were distributing some Shakespeare-themed freebies, including Comedy of Errors crossword puzzles, hand-held fans replete with information on the revitalization of the Delacorte Theater, and a Shakespeare in the Park coloring sheet with mini-crayons for the small fry.

No question that, for this year’s production, the Mobile Unit’s improved sound and light design, not to mention its newly-raised stage, is a plus. Although the rug that was used for past productions was convenient, the portable stage affords better sightlines.

Aside from the thrill of watching a free Shakespeare performance with salsa rhythms, what made this performance truly singular was its al fresco setting at the aptly-named Sunset Park.  For, as the audience watched this 90-minute show, the sun sinking down on the horizon bathed everybody in a warm golden light. 

Suffice it to say, that this musicalized play about separation, reunion, and a lot of mistaken identities, eventually rights itself (It is a comedy, after all!). But theatergoers who want to discover the particulars of how it all miraculously resolves will have to reserve a seat at an upcoming performance of the Mobile Unit’s Comedy of Errors.

Indeed, The Mobile Unit’s The Comedy of Errors will wrap up its five-borough tour on June 30, having performed a total of 38 performances in outdoor spaces throughout New York.

And, by the bye, The Mobile Unit is the direct descendant of Joseph Papp’s original “Mobile Unit,” launched in 1957, which evolved into the New York Shakespeare Festival and ultimately The Public Theater. Its mission has ever been to break through the barriers that prevent people from enjoying the healing powers of art and theater. Too bad Joseph Papp isn’t alive today to see this latest iteration of The Comedy of Errors.

The Comedy of Errors

Through June 30

For more information, visit

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission.