By CHRISTA McINTYRE
A motley crew of shipwrecked Portlanders has descended upon the stage at Post5: Rude boys, a set of twins from Wes Anderson’s Team Zissou, an uplifting curvaceous woman who keeps her employment on 82nd Avenue alongside her fur-coated Iceberg Slim creditor, and the perhaps newly iconic lumbersexual transport Shakespeare’s most superficial of plays into an evening of laughter.
Director Ty Boice takes the flattest of characters in The Comedy of Errors and matches them with their modern descendants roaming our city blocks. A farce becomes a farce of a farce as the overgrown subcultures of the last 20 years mix and meet and mistake identities.
There’s never a dull moment at Post5: the troupe love what they’re doing, and their contagious energy embraces the audience. Surveys might suggest that Portlanders have had their fill of Byzantine-decorated donuts, birds on things, sock-collecting, and keeping it weird. Post5’s production of The Comedy of Errors refreshingly allows us to once again laugh at ourselves.
Comedy is a light-hearted and fantastical jab at the nature of human relations, with familiar Shakespearean themes aplenty: twins, mistaken identities, bawdy slights, a sea voyage, imaginary landscapes, and impossible names.
Post5’s actors exude a natural chemistry, transporting the audience with their comfortable camaraderie. Chip Sherman, who lit up the stage in the company’s recent Twelfth Night as an Eartha Kitt-ish Olivia, anchors the play once again with his brilliant slapstick. As one of the Antipholus twins, he acts with a similar gregarious coyness, this time around as a rakish male. The transformation speaks volumes about his talent: he makes both men and women characters sexy and aloof.
Stan Brown, who gives us Egeon and others, suggests Shaft and Kojak, alternating his lines with a hilarious staccato and lollipop. Boyce gives the lines an old commercial jingle interpretation, and Brown’s wittily caricatured presence hallmarks the inside joke.
Borrowing from cable television shows, internet and local memes, The Comedy of Errors has a jump rhythm, and just as you’re thinking, “I know, I know what comes next,” the one-wheeled man of all seasons, The Unipiper, breaks the final wall. The only missing Oregon elements to the play, it seems, are a cat and Steve Prefontaine.
There’s nothing like being in a room filled with people and regaining a healthy sense of the creativity that Portland has yet to untap. The Comedy of Errors has no life-changing emotional insight, but Post5 has a wonderful aesthetic for translating the biggest of English literary icons into a restless passion and making a room break into laughter. Take some time to see this comedy at Post5. They soon could be a citywide treasure, and may have to make a play about themselves.
The Comedy of Errors runs through June 27 at Post5 Theatre. Ticket and schedule information are here.