★★★★★ - Irresistible
She said, hey old man there’s a new show; It’s hip-hop Shakespeare, do you wanna go? I said, hip-hop Bard, ain’t no way, that’s just noise, it ain’t no play!
Call me a purist. Call me a snob. What can I say? I’m old school. “Hamilton”? No thanks. I’ve always thought my musical tastes were quite eclectic until…hip-hop, rap, hit the scene. It rings in my brain as insufferably repetitive.
That said, I dreaded the assignment to NCT’s season opener of “Bomb-itty of Errors.” I simply knew taking the beloved Bard and reducing it to forced-beat measures would torture my senses. Ha! Here’s your lesson for the day. Maybe the year.
Within ten minutes, director Christopher V. Edwards turned me around. A complete 180. And, it’s not because of the exquisitely detailed set designed by Dana Moran Williams which took us to graffiti-ed streets complete with steaming sewer and fences clogged with trash. It wasn’t the impeccable costumes of Daniella Toscano which the cast shed and changed with lightning speed.
While Michelle “Chyld” Lecker DJ’ed on a platform high above the stage to provide the musical beat, and some wonderful commentary and reaction to all that happened below her, a cast of four men brought Shakespeare’s “A Comedy of Errors” into the here and now.
Submerging themselves with abandon and flair, Joshua Horton, Delius Doherty, Jesse Borque, and Patrick Halley played every main character, even retaining the Shakespearean origins of DRAG (DRessed As a Girl) and, if you didn’t before, now you know where the term came from).
All of life is language; everything is based in words regardless of form. Shards of Shakespeare’s lines linger in this script, but the message remains despite the way it’s delivered. One of the greatest things about this update is that it also delves into today’s racial issues as much as the class issues of the original.
Here, the two sets of separated-at-birth twins are of different races. Dromio of Syracuse (Horton) is black, Dromio of Ephesus (Halley) is white; Antipholus of Syracuse (Borque) is white, Antipholus of Ephesus (Dorety) is black. They are constantly mistaken for one another wherever they go. It brings to mind the Maya Angelou poem “Human Family.” And so it should. Because, deep down, that’s what this comedy is all about anyway: “we are more alike, my friends, than unalike.”
The play is high-energy, it moves to a beat that rarely relents. It borders on farce with a parade of entrances and exits, and different characters emerging at every turn. The critic in me wants to find ways to highlight the best, find the flaws. It’s impossible. These four actors imbued each role with mannerisms and quirks that completely delineated and separated one from the other. It’s rare indeed to find an entire cast so thoroughly submerged into character, let alone be able to switch so rapidly. But these guys did it, and the incredible amount of fun they have projects from the stage all the way to the back row.
The theatre is a vehicle of language for entertainment, but can also be a place to push boundaries, to teach. The best of it accomplishes all three, especially when it sneaks up on you. All this proves that Willy is not inaccessible; maybe—hopefully—those young people in the crowd for “Bomb-itty…” will head over next month for “Macbeth.”
It’s also a lesson for us old, snobby farts who have such preconceived notions, we who suffer from the prejudice of our artistic taste. Tell me again, when is “Hamilton” coming in?
Somebody plug in my beat-box…
It was funny, baudy, a laugh a minute; meant for the young, but maybe you could spin it; You sit in your chair, askin should I go; the answer’s really simple: Go see this show!
What: Bomb-itty of Errors
When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday through September 11
2 p.m. Sunday
2p.m. Saturday September 10
Where: Nevada Conservatory Theatre, UNLV-Bayley
Tickets: $27.50 - $33 (702) 895-ARTS (2787); www.nct.unlv.edu)
Grade: ***** (Irresistable)
Producer: Nevada Conservatory Theatre; Artistic Director: Christopher V. Edwards; Director: Christopher V. Edwards; Assistant Director: JoAnna Garcia; Choreographer: Khalid Freemen; Scenic Design: Dana Moran Williams; Lighting Design: Amanda Valdez; Costume Design: Daniella Toscano; Sound Design: Joey Jevne; Technical Director: Lesley Boeckman, Hannah D’Elia; Stage Manager: Robert Acosta