I knew chances would be slim that I would find The Comedy of Errors funny, but I did not realize how infuriating I would find it. These characters are so far up their own doublets that they can’t solve the most basic problems set before them. Problems such as why everyone is acting like they don’t know each other or why servants are being beaten with no cause or why a complete stranger insists she is married to you. Not only do I think the humor of this particular play hasn’t aged well, I feel like audiences would rush the stage out of sheer frustration.
This act takes place entirely in front of the door to Antipholus of Ephesus’ house. The man himself comes home with his Dromio to dine with his wife, only to find the house closed to him and somebody on the other side of his door refusing him entrance. This is, of course Dromio of Syracuse, who has been tasked by Adriana to keep everyone out so she can have a private dinner with her husband. If Dromio of Syracuse had just opened the door, everything would have come to light and this ridiculous farce could end. But alas, he holds his post and Antipholus of E. decides to take his friends out to dinner at some other lady’s house to make his wife jealous. He requests his goldsmith friend make a chain for him and then meet him for dinner, presumably to have a gift for his mistress.
The next scene shows us Antipholus of Syracuse after dinner, talking with Adriana’s sister Luciana. He seems to have fallen for her, but she believes him to be her brother-in-law. She goes back inside and he talks to Dromio of Syracuse who is evidently engaged to the kitchen maid, though he doesn’t feel this is a stroke of good fortune. The goldsmith comes along, and believing Antipholus of S. to be of E. gives over the chain he just made. Now Antipholus of S. has a betrothal gift for Luciana.
I guess I just don’t get it. No surprise, I am a dum-dum, after all. But this play just gets more and more surreal with no real stakes or movement toward anything at all. The father is presumably still languishing in prison, but he doesn’t really matter. The two Antipholuses pretty much suck and the Dromios and the sisters aren’t much better. I suppose this would have been hilarious to Elizabethan audiences, but it’s just not to my taste. Maybe the next act will just bowl me over with hilarity. We’ll just have to wait and see.