Things to do in Melbourne #1: Shakespeare in the park

How to make the most of a languid Australian summer evening, Melbourne-style … get thee to the Botanic Gardens, ensuring you have a blanket, wine, cheese and other essential victuals. Perhaps some mossie spray, but last night, the bites were few. And enjoy, under a gibbous moon and occasional small aircraft, the romp that is Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors.

Played by the Australian Shakespeare Company, Comedy added Pythonesque elements and slapstick to the play about mistaken identity to make it absurdly chuckle-worthy.

A simple backdrop, showing German expressionism in its cityscape, featured three doors plus a balcony, all that was needed as the sun went down and the lights came on. (The site is well chosen, with plenty of shade cast across the space.)

The back story about how the two sets of twins have come to meet under such circumstances is told in instalments that intersect with the main story at the climax; cleverly interwoven and and offering some of the play’s driest humour in the person of the bestilted Duke.

The costumes were gorgeously over the top, vaudeville meets Venician masquerade, and the performances were so physical and such good fun, with modern touches to add extra laughs without deconstructing the whole.

I’ve previously seen Midsummer Night’s Dream by the same ensemble here, and I think I’m going to be a regular from now on.

Food and beverages are available to buy, but BYO is welcome. There are chairs for rent.

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