They can’t, they won’t, and they don’t stop dropping beats and heavy rhymes in an “add-rap-tation” of Will’s ill verses in Post5 Theatre’s production of the critically acclaimed Bomb-itty of Errors.
Bomb-itty authors Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, and Erik Weiner are in a tense rap battle over centuries with the Bard, and take on one of his most absurd comedies with a win for all. The Comedy of Errors is made fresh as two sets of twins get rapped up in a case of mistaken identities and have 99 problems as a result, including the female kind.
It would take a nation of millions to hold these four actors back, as they come close to equalling that 99 in number of costume and character changes in two hours. In this multi-layered universe, popular ’90s Rap has Dromeos and Antipholuses rocking their Adidas in Syracuse. Unlike the Comedy, where the Bard’s devices become heavily used and the audience tries to dispense its belief and regain a little composure, in Bomb-itty you don’t feel easily amused. While the time is neigh for a renaissance of that cultural era, the clever live-spinning of DJ Enoch’s live back-beats has the characters face off with lyrical grabs and attitudes from Shakespeare, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, Outkast, the Beastie Boys, Biggie, and Broadway, with all the glory of a pristine white-walled sneaker: “She loves you, yeah. Like the Beatles, the birds and the bees. And do it so you should.” “I don’t know anyone who would be so vain to not accept the offer of such a nice chain.”
The play is more of a concert, and the now feeling is electric when the characters break the fourth wall like entertainers who know how to work a crowd. The set is a mashup of NY Times and graffiti that Cornbread would’ve slapped a tag to. The sets of twins rep with sweet kicks, acid-wash low-slung jeans where their Upper East Side plaid Calvin Klein boxers peek out, do-rags, and starched undershirts. The ladies get their weave on with some designer wigs and slinky dresses.
Joel Patrick Durham’s playful work with Original Practice Shakespeare and established stage acting at Bag & Baggage shine in his many roles, from a ditzy blonde reminiscent of Chrissy on the television show Three’s Company to the crackerjack-box version of a cop. Within minutes he and the other cast members trade off costume and persona until the requisite chase scene becomes so chaotic and ridiculous that Guillaume Apollinaire would be sitting back in his seat like home. Durham is the overconfident skate-jock Dromeo when he needs to be, and next a boy-toy whose inexplicable lack of intelligence is a shield from harm.
Anya Pearson is an Antipholus and wife who can shake a mountain with her finger wave or pack the heat under a heavy set of lyrics. She can bring out the TLC soul charm of waterfalls or a Tupac Shakur man-about-town doing his business. Here is where the actors and script come to full effect: in the constant movement on stage they are having fun with the words and the voices they take on, and it’s all being fed back to the audience, which rolls through the night with a lot of “I get its.” Bomb-itty is a Lego-stacking of the brevity of wits, and the tower grows higher as the play goes on.
Blake Stone is a Dromeo, island-nation dub-step healer and brownstone faux-fur-wearing madame, to name just a few roles. In the scene “Let Us In,” his pauses and hand-held delivery against the chorus is a serene example of the precise physical and intellectual stock it takes to make a version come off. He and Durham do the cabbage-patch, shopping-cart dance as a leitmotif ,and its repeat makes more laughs with each occurrence. Whether he’s a man with a hard-knock life or a Roxanne after rocks, he’s got the audience wrapped around his finger on each occasion.
Melissa Whitney’s Antipholus is at her acme with “Luciana,” a wooing number that casts its net on Durham’s opaque blonde. She’s fiercely funny in her T.I. Over the top masculine pleas, which are redundant for their lack of seduction and also because Durham is a simple maid: the message fails to get across. Whitney also plays a rabbi, the Diamond District kind pushing the envelope to a Don Rickles style of insult comedy, but pulling back just enough tension to have us laughing. The quartet of actors, who fragment into countless characters, have a tight chemistry regardless of the roles they take at the moment, and for the night they seem like they’ve grown up together and on a warpath with insider jokes.
There’s that old saying, “If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong,” and in the case of director Sam Dinkowitz’s Bomb-itty of Errors the work is evident to the seamless edge where the audience doesn’t have to think about why this is funny, like dear Will’s o.g. play: rather, they are in the palm of the production’s hand, and loving it. This production is iller than The Illiad (wink MC Paul Barman) and that’s a record.
Bomb-itty continues through September 18 at Post5 Theatre. Ticket and schedule information here.