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comedy of errors

Plot Summary

Ephesus and Syracuse are at odds. Any Syracusan found in Ephesus will be executed unless he can pay a ransom of a thousand marks. Egeon, an old Syracusan merchant, has been arrested. He explains how he has come to Ephesus: he and his wife Emilia had identical twin sons and identical twin slaves, purchased for the purpose of serving the sons. In a shipwreck many years ago, he was separated from his wife, one son and one slave. The survivors are renamed in memory of the lost ones: Antipholus for the son and Dromio for the slave. Once grown to manhood, Antipholus of Syracuse, with his Dromio, had set off in search of his brother and mother. Egeon is now in search of them. The Duke gives him until evening to find the ransom money. By chance Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse have also just arrived in Ephesus. The other Antipholus and Dromio have been living there since the wreck. And so the comedy of errors ensues. The locals constantly mistake the visiting twins for the natives even Antipholus of Ephesus' wife Adriana and her sister Luciana are fooled. The confusions result in Antipholus of Ephesus being arrested for debt and declared mad, while Antipholus of Syracuse take refuge from his brother's angry wife in a Priory where the abbess turns out to be Egeon's long-lost wife. All is resolved and Egeon is freed.


RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1962 RST/1962 Aldwych/1963 RST/1964 International Tour/1965 UK Tour/1965 RST/1972 RST: Clifford Williams

John Wyckham, Clifford Williams (set), Anthony Powell (costumes); John Wyckham, Clifford Williams (lighting); Peter Wishart (music)

Ian Richardson/John Normington/Charles Kay/Corin Redgrave (Antipholus of Ephesus), Alec McCowen/Ian Richardson/John Wood (Antipholus of Syracuse), Ian Hewitson/Clifford Rose/Robert Lloyd/Chris Harris (Dromio of Ephesus), Barry MacGregor/Michael Williams/Geoffrey Hutchings (Dromio of Syracuse), Diana Rigg/Susan Engel/Judy Cornwell (Adriana), Susan Maryott/Janet Suzman/Julie Christie/Tina Packer/Rosemary McHale (Luciana), James Booth/Derek Smith/Michael Williams/John Nettleton/Peter Geddis/Philip Manikum (Pinch), Michael Murray/John Bott (Balthazar), Peter Jeffrey/Ken Wynne/Jeffery Dench/Gerald James (Angelo), Tony Steedman/Donald Sinden/Michael Murray/Nicholas Selby/Clement McCallin (Solinus), Tony Church/John Welsh/Paul Hardwick/Timothy West/Raymond Westwell (Aegeon), Patricia Brake/Caroline Maud (Luce), Yvonne Bonnamy/Susan Engel/Elizabeth Spriggs/Edwina Ford (A Courtezan), Pauline Letts/Madoline Tjomas/Joan Macarthur (Abbess), Philip Brack (A Merchant), Edmond Bennett/Morgan Sheppard (A Merchant), John Corvin/Sidney Livingstone (An Officer), Bryan Reed (A Gaoler), Margaret Drabble, Gordon Honeycombe, Nerys Hughes, Tim Wylton

1976-77 RST/1977 Aldwych: Trevor Nunn

John Napier, Dermot Hayes (design); Clive Morris (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music); Gillian Lynne (musical staging)

Mike Gwilym (Antipholus of Ephesus), Roger Rees (Antipholus of Syracuse), Nickolas Grace (Dromio of Ephesus), Michael Williams (Dromio of Syracuse), Judi Dench (Adriana), Francesca Annis (Luciana), Robin Ellis/John Woodvine (Pinch), Norman Tyrrell (Balthazar), Paul Brooke (Angelo), Brian Coburn (Solinus), Griffith Jones (Aegeon), Susan Dury (Luce), Barbara Shelley/Carman Du Sautoy (A Courtezan), Marie Kean (Abbess), Jacob Witkin (A Merchant), Keith Taylor (A Merchant), Richard Griffiths (An Officer), Tim Brierley, Paul Whitworth, Peter Woodward (Waiters), Marjorie Bland, Pippa Guard (Girls)

1983 RST/1984 Barbican: Adrian Noble

Ultz (design); Robert Bryan (lighting); Nigel Hess (music)

Peter McEnery (Antipholus of Ephesus), Paul Greenwood (Antipholus of Syracuse), Henry Goodman (Dromio of Ephesus), Richard O'Callaghan (Dromio of Syracuse), Zoë Wanamaker (Adriana), Jane Booker (Luciana), John Dicks (Pinch), Geoffrey Beevers (Balthazar), John Dicks/Anthony O'Donnell (Solinus), Joseph O'Conor (Aegeon), Frankie Cosgrave (Luce), Emma Watson (A Courtezan), Sheila Ballantine (Abbess), Stanley Page (A Merchant), Raymond Platt (A Merchant), Paul Clayton (An Officer)

1987 Small-scale Tour: Nick Hamm

Kit Surrey (design); Chris Parry (lighting)

Michael Mueller (Antipholus of Ephesus), Richard O'Callaghan (Antipholus of Syracuse), Iain Mitchell (Dromio of Ephesus), Mark Hadfield (Dromio of Syracuse), Maggie Steed (Adriana), Tessa Peake-Jones (Luciana), Bob Goody (Pinch), Gregory Karr (Balthazar), Malcolm Sinclair (Solinus), David Collings (Aegeon), Jill Spurrier (Luce), Fiona Gillies (A Courtezan), Jill Spurrier (Abbess), Philip Franks (A Merchant), Ken Shorter (An Officer)

1990 RST/1991 Barbican/1992 Barbican and International Tour: Ian Judge

Mark Thompson (design); Clive Morris (lighting); Nigel Hess (music)

Desmond Barrit (Antipholus of Ephesus/Antipholus of Syracuse), Graham Turner/Neil Caple (Dromio of Ephesus/Dromio of Syracuse), Estelle Kohler (Adriana), CarolineLoncq/Serena Evans (Luciana), David Killick (Pinch), John Bott (Balthazar), David Killick (Solinus), David Waller (Aegeon), Polly Kemp (Luce), Toni Palmer (A Courtezan), Cherry Morris (Abbess), Bernard Wright (A Merchant), Andrew Havill (A Merchant), John Hodgkinson (An Officer), Raymond Bowers (Angelo), Catherine White (Ephesian)

1996 TOP/1996-97 Small-scale Tour/1997 Young Vic: Tim Supple

Robert Innes Hopkins (design); Chris Davey (lighting); Adrian Lee (music)

Simon Coates (Antipholus of Ephesus), Robert Bowman (Antipholus of Syracuse), Eric Mallet (Dromio of Ephesus), Dan Milne (Dromio of Syracuse), Sarah C. Cameron (Adriana), Thusitha Jayasundera (Luciana), Leo Wringer (Solinus), Christopher Saul (Aegeon)

2000 RST/2000-01 Barbican: Lynne Parker

Blaithin Sheerin (design); Tina MacHugh (lighting); Bell Helicopter (music)

Anthony Howell (Antipholus of Ephesus), David Tennant (Antipholus of Syracuse), Tom Smith (Dromio of Ephesus), Ian Hughes (Dromio of Syracuse), Emily Raymond (Adriana), Jacqueline Defferary (Luciana), Michael Thomas (Solinus), Paul Greenwood (Aegeon)

2005 RST/2006 Novello: Nancy Meckler

Katrina Lindsay (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)

Christopher Colquhoun (Antipholus of Ephesus), Joe Dixon (Antipholus of Syracuse), Forbes Masson (Dromio of Ephesus), Jonathan Slinger (Dromio of Syracuse), Suzanne Burden (Adriana), Sinéad Keenan (Luciana), Tom Hodgkins (Pinch), Geoffrey Lumb (Balthazar), Oscar Pearce (Angelo), Neil McKinven (Solinus), Richard Cordery (Aegeon), Diveen Henry (A Courtezan), Frances Jeater (Abbess), Christopher Obi (A Merchant), Christopher Robert (A Merchant), Eke Chukwu (An Officer), Alice Barclay, Bettrys Jones (Ladies), Kevin Trainor (Messenger), Stewart W. Fraser (Puppeteer)

For a gallery of over 60 production images from a selection of these productions (and some older ones in the pre-RSC Shakespeare Memorial Theatre), together with sample costumes, pages from promptbooks and other visual materials, go to

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