Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s ‘The Bomb-itty of Errors’ Brings out The Bomb in The Bard

Cast of Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s ‘The Bomb-itty of Errors’

by Shelley A. Sackett

Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s “The Bomb-itty of Errors” is perfect pre-summer fare. Hip-hop and rap, a live DJ, a brilliantly exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) script, some sublime acting and — as if that’s not enough — the Bard himself, camouflaged but hardly hidden. All wrapped neatly in a 90-minute intermission-less package that is as invigorating as it is boisterous.

The brainchild of four final-year students at New York’s Tisch School of the Arts, “Bomb-itty” started as a university project in 1998. It was so popular that it received enough support to return to New York the following year for a seven-month run, which in turn led to a lengthy Chicago run.

“Bomb-itty” is true to Shakespeare’s style of rhyming couplets, (sometimes bawdy) humor and historical references. The language often mirrors Shakespeare’s with references to other works sprinkled here and there to stroke the egos of those who recognize them. But the real star of the show is the vibrant, beatbox soundbox and the actors who manage to memorize a super-sized number of lines, which they deliver at break-neck speed.

The result is a theater experience unlike any I’ve experienced. (No, “Bomb-itty” is not a “Hamilton” clone. It’s way more fun.)

Based more than loosely on Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” the plot involves two sets of identical twins with identical names, mistaken identities, misfortunes galore and a slew of stereotypes (some more offensive than funny). To get the most out of the rapid fire lines and delivery, either arrive early enough to read the playbill’s summary (twice, at least), or spend some time digesting the on-line Cliff Notes version of the original. Trust me, it is time well spent.

Despite first appearances (the prologue is a gem), “Bomb-itty” adheres closely to Shakespeare’s play.

In the original, a merchant of Syracuse, Egeon, suffered a shipwreck some years ago in which he was separated from his wife, Emilia, from one of his twin sons, later Antipholus of Ephesus, and the son’s slave, Dromio of Ephesus. The other slave’s twin, Dromio of Syracuse and Egeon’s remaining son, Antipholus of Syracuse, remained with Egeon.

When he came of age, Egeon allowed Antipholus of Syracuse and his slave Dromio of Syracuse to go in search of his lost brother. When they didn’t return, Egeon set out after his remaining son, and the play begins as we learn of Egeon’s capture and his condemnation to death by Duke Solinus in the hostile city of Ephesus. The details of Egeon’s story move Solinus to pity, and he grants a reprieve until nightfall, by which time a ransom of a thousand marks must be raised.

Unbeknown to all, the missing Antipholus and Dromio landed in Ephesus after the shipwreck and have thrived there. Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant Dromio are thrown into confusion when, unknown to each other, their twin brothers of the same names arrive in town from Syracuse.

In “Bomb-itty,” the Antipholus and Dromio twins are now quadruplets, put up for adoption after their father, a famous rap MC (Master of Ceremonies), committed suicide. The time is today and Ephesus and Syracuse have been replaced by the US East and West coasts.

Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus visit Syracuse, New York, to take part in an MC competition. In the ensuing mayhem, one Antipholus is called home to a wife he never married, only to fall in love with her sister, Luciana. Meanwhile, the other Antipholus runs afoul of a policeman who enjoys a questionable relationship with his horse.

Four actors play most of the roles. Henry Morehouse as Dromio of Ephesus and Luciana chews up the stage. He has a natural physicality and stellar delivery and is comfortable and confident. He hands-down steals every scene in which he plays Luciana. A recent graduate of Boston University with a BFA in acting, Morehouse is a talent to be watched. His stage presence is spot-on and magnetic.

Likewise, the veteran actor Malik Mitchell brings the same charisma and acting chops to this production that those of us lucky enough to see him in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “Once on this Island” have already experienced. His Dr. Pinch, the Rastafarian herbal “doctor,” is a show-stopper.

Anderson Stinson, III is all sinew and smiles in his many roles, shining as Antipholus of Syracuse. DJ Whysham strikes all the right beats and Victoria Omoregie rises to the challenge of her many character and costume changes.

Notwithstanding its gratuitous sexism, misogyny and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric (and a truly baffling and unforgivable antisemitic portrayal of a Jewish jeweler), the play is worth seeing for its high-energy, rowdy fun and for showing us what hip-hop and rap in the right hands can produce: a unique and exciting contemporary art form. If you listen carefully, you can feel the Bard’s ghostly presence, his sandaled toes tapping out the beats. For tickets and more information, go to: https://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/

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MICHAELHOBAN

Cast of Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s ‘The Bomb-itty of Errors’

‘The Bomb-itty of Errors’ — Written by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Gregory J. Qaiyum, Jeffrey Qaiyum and Erik Weiner. Based on ‘The Comedy of Errors’ by William Shakespeare. Directed by Christopher V. Edwards. Scenic Design by Baron E. Pugh; Costume Design by Zoe Sundra; Lighting Design by Max Wallace; Props Design by Steve Viera, Sound Design by Abraham Joyner-Meyers. Presented by the Actors’ Shakespeare Projectat the Charlestown working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill St., Chares through June 26.

by Shelley A. Sackett

Actors’ Shakespeare Project’s “The Bomb-itty of Errors” is perfect pre-summer fare. Hip-hop and rap, a live DJ, a brilliantly exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) script, some sublime acting and — as if that’s not enough — the Bard himself, camouflaged but hardly hidden. All wrapped neatly in a 90-minute intermission-less package that is as invigorating as it is boisterous.

The brainchild of four final-year students at New York’s Tisch School of the Arts, “Bomb-itty” started as a university project in 1998. It was so popular that it received enough support to return to New York the following year for a seven-month run, which in turn led to a lengthy Chicago run.

“Bomb-itty” is true to Shakespeare’s style of rhyming couplets, (sometimes bawdy) humor and historical references. The language often mirrors Shakespeare’s with references to other works sprinkled here and there to stroke the egos of those who recognize them. But the real star of the show is the vibrant, beatbox soundbox and the actors who manage to memorize a super-sized number of lines, which they deliver at break-neck speed.

The result is a theater experience unlike any I’ve experienced. (No, “Bomb-itty” is not a “Hamilton” clone. It’s way more fun.)

Based more than loosely on Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” the plot involves two sets of identical twins with identical names, mistaken identities, misfortunes galore and a slew of stereotypes (some more offensive than funny). To get the most out of the rapid fire lines and delivery, either arrive early enough to read the playbill’s summary (twice, at least), or spend some time digesting the on-line Cliff Notes version of the original. Trust me, it is time well spent.

Despite first appearances (the prologue is a gem), “Bomb-itty” adheres closely to Shakespeare’s play.

In the original, a merchant of Syracuse, Egeon, suffered a shipwreck some years ago in which he was separated from his wife, Emilia, from one of his twin sons, later Antipholus of Ephesus, and the son’s slave, Dromio of Ephesus. The other slave’s twin, Dromio of Syracuse and Egeon’s remaining son, Antipholus of Syracuse, remained with Egeon.

When he came of age, Egeon allowed Antipholus of Syracuse and his slave Dromio of Syracuse to go in search of his lost brother. When they didn’t return, Egeon set out after his remaining son, and the play begins as we learn of Egeon’s capture and his condemnation to death by Duke Solinus in the hostile city of Ephesus. The details of Egeon’s story move Solinus to pity, and he grants a reprieve until nightfall, by which time a ransom of a thousand marks must be raised.

Unbeknown to all, the missing Antipholus and Dromio landed in Ephesus after the shipwreck and have thrived there. Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant Dromio are thrown into confusion when, unknown to each other, their twin brothers of the same names arrive in town from Syracuse.

In “Bomb-itty,” the Antipholus and Dromio twins are now quadruplets, put up for adoption after their father, a famous rap MC (Master of Ceremonies), committed suicide. The time is today and Ephesus and Syracuse have been replaced by the US East and West coasts.

Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus visit Syracuse, New York, to take part in an MC competition. In the ensuing mayhem, one Antipholus is called home to a wife he never married, only to fall in love with her sister, Luciana. Meanwhile, the other Antipholus runs afoul of a policeman who enjoys a questionable relationship with his horse.

Four actors play most of the roles. Henry Morehouse as Dromio of Ephesus and Luciana chews up the stage. He has a natural physicality and stellar delivery and is comfortable and confident. He hands-down steals every scene in which he plays Luciana. A recent graduate of Boston University with a BFA in acting, Morehouse is a talent to be watched. His stage presence is spot-on and magnetic.

Likewise, the veteran actor Malik Mitchell brings the same charisma and acting chops to this production that those of us lucky enough to see him in SpeakEasy Stage Company’s “Once on this Island” have already experienced. His Dr. Pinch, the Rastafarian herbal “doctor,” is a show-stopper.

Anderson Stinson, III is all sinew and smiles in his many roles, shining as Antipholus of Syracuse. DJ Whysham strikes all the right beats and Victoria Omoregie rises to the challenge of her many character and costume changes.

Notwithstanding its gratuitous sexism, misogyny and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric (and a truly baffling and unforgivable antisemitic portrayal of a Jewish jeweler), the play is worth seeing for its high-energy, rowdy fun and for showing us what hip-hop and rap in the right hands can produce: a unique and exciting contemporary art form. If you listen carefully, you can feel the Bard’s ghostly presence, his sandaled toes tapping out the beats. For tickets and more information, go to: https://www.actorsshakespeareproject.org/

‘The Bomb-itty of Errors’ — Written by Jordan Allen-Dutton, Jason Catalano, Gregory J. Qaiyum, Jeffrey Qaiyum and Erik Weiner. Based on ‘The Comedy of Errors’ by William Shakespeare. Directed by Christopher V. Edwards. Scenic Design by Baron E. Pugh; Costume Design by Zoe Sundra; Lighting Design by Max Wallace; Props Design by Steve Viera, Sound Design by Abraham Joyner-Meyers. Presented by the Actors’ Shakespeare Project at the Charlestown working Theater, 442 Bunker Hill St., Charles through June 26.