Given the manic quality running throughout this farce of Shakespeare’s, the first element the new production would stress is setting. In plain terms, mistaken identity and frantic action is at the heart of the comedy; this being the case, the set should be both very spare and very functional. More exactly, the ideal would be several door frames and doors set in the rear of the stage. The bareness of the set would then provide an important contrast to the multiple actions, and also allow the actors to move more freely. In this vision, in fact, Ephesus is “anywhere,” which reinforces how farce exists in any place at all. Along these lines, this production would also rely on the actors as stagehands, in a sense.

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For example, when Antipholus expresses his passion for Luciana, he first goes into the wings and pushes onto the stage a divan on wheels, on which the two will have their conversation. The prop is disposed of later, as it came in, and more comic effect is created by having Luciana do this. Later, when Antipholus orders Dromio to buy a rope and that character returns with it, an interesting and comic touch is added with Dromio entering the scene and the rope being tossed from the wings to him. It should be noted that all of the unorthodox prop actions cannot in any way be indicated as bizarre by the actors. For farce to be successful, it is vital that it be played seriously, and this need extends to the new production’s using the actors as stagehands.

Then, the new production will use music consistently to counterpoint the action. While rock has been incorporated into adaptations of Shakespeare in the past, the difference here is that, given the outrageous story of this comedy, the background music must be pop. Unlike the actors supplying and moving the props in an oblivious way, also, this element of pop music will be acknowledged by the actors’ expressions. For example, when Adriana begs Antipholus not ti leave her and the people of Syracuse express how only witchcraft can explain these events, the audience hears Frank Sinatra singing, “Witchcraft,” which creates a pause in the action and causes the actress playing Adriana to roll her eyes in exasperation.

Similarly, when Antipholus is denied entry to his own house by Dromio, the audience suddenly hears Paul McCartney’s , “Let ‘Em In,” which again creates a brief pause in the scene and impatience in the actors’ expressions. This effect, importantly, may not be overdone. Still, several uses of it in the play will have a cumulative effect, with each excerpt from a pop song halting the action and generating frustration in the actors. In these moments, timing is critical; each such episode must be brief, or the “joke” suffers from being too extended. It is true that the actors are breaking character at these times, but the effect will be of reinforcing the madness of farce as it exists in real life, and how virtually insane moments occur when people are most confused.

Finally, this production will be true to the original plot. Ideally, also, the actors will all be known as dramatic performers, so that this immersion into farce is all the more enhanced by contrast. Beyond any other aspect or production element, however, the director will emphatically insist on the performances as “playing it straight.” It cannot be overstated that farce succeeds only when the performers believe the action to be absolutely real. This is in place despite the nonsense in evidence everywhere. For example, the gold chain so important to the resolution is comically massive and heavy, yet is handled by the performers as ordinary in size. Essentially, this production relies on contrast, and on creating a world in which madness is a norm and the characters fully accept it as reality.