Language is continually evolving. From the primordial grunts of cavemen, through to the highly technical words of Professor Brian Cox, we have moved on considerably in our communication over the years. However, the one thing we do know is that it is impossible to mix the English in common usage from different eras. So, for example, a play that has some of the main characters speaking English from the 16th Century whilst others just wouldn’t work would it? Well go and see Intermission Youth Theatre’s production of Double Trouble at St Saviours, Knightsbridge, and then tell me what you think.
At a UK entry point, two police officers (Madeleine Manace Bakofu and Micah Loboun) are ‘welcoming’ a new bunch of migrants to the country. Unfortunately, the border has now been closed and so, this ragtag group are going to be deported back to their country of origin where they will have to take their chance of survival. One person seems particularly upset by the news. Dressed in a far superior, if not exactly 21st century, manner to the rest. Speaking in old Shakespearean, Egeon (Baba Oyejide) tells his story. How he and his wife (Andreia Chipa) had two sets of twin children – Dominique (Lucie Adewusi & Sharai-Raven May) and Anthony (Donnavan Yates and Samuel Awoyo) – but got separated in their war-torn country. Each adult having one girl and one boy with them. Twenty years later and Egeon is bringing his children to England to try and find their mother and siblings when, once again, the fates intervene and he is separated from his Dominique and Anthony. Taking pity on him, one of the officers offers to drive him around the town to see if there is any sight of his children – distinguishable by their dress and Shakespearean language. In the town, the scene is set for confusion of farcical proportions as the two innocents wander through a strange place where their identical twins are known and mildly notorious.
Just in case, you haven’t recognised it, Double Trouble is based on Shakespeare’s play The Comedy of Errors and rather skilfully moves the action from ancient Greece to contemporary United Kingdom where refugees are no longer welcome. A transition that sounds a bit clunky on paper but works exceptionally well in the theatre. Similarly, having the ‘migrant’ Egeon, Dominique and Anthony speaking ‘Shakespearean’ and the locals all using street language was a truly inspired artistic touch by Artistic Director Darren Raymond. I did have an initial worry that the fluidity and pure poetry of the Shakespeare text would somehow be overshadowed by the more – to me as an old fellow – incomprehensible street slang but actually, I was completely wrong. The two languages worked together well to both highlight the differences in the characters and also show their similarities as human beings. Catherine Morgan has designed a minimal but really effective moveable set that works extremely well to frame the various locations and also allow the chorus to be seen and heard effectively.
The story itself is really funny in places. Let’s face it, confusion over which twin is which has always been able to raise a laugh, but when you add a second pair of twins, so that nobody actually knows to whom they are speaking, well the laugh potential shoots up. The funny scenes were done well and never overplayed. Even when the comedy duo of Mad T (Iain Douglas) and Jimmy 2 Times (Kashif Douglas) were added, the play stayed avoided slipping over the edge to farce for its own sake. And then, along came Pastor Pinch (Nyomi Wright) – looking stunning in a diamante dog collar – to nearly steal the show with the over-the-top – but thanks to American televangelists believable – performance. However, along with the humour, there was also some rather interesting ‘serious’ moments. One scene in particular really intrigued me and that was when Adriana (Sara Mokonen) and her sisters – Luciana (Natasha Kamanga) and Charlotte (Abigail Sewell) – are discussing marriage and, more importantly, a woman’s place in the world. I have to say, as a man myself, I found Luciana’s views to be rather ‘out there’ and was a little surprised that the other characters didn’t really challenge her more. But this scene was a fascinating debate starter which made me stop and think about how attitudes towards women have- hopefully – changed in the last four hundred years or so.
Double Trouble is the second production from Intermission Youth Theatre that I have seen and once again they have delivered an absolutely first-rate show. To be able to move a beloved work of Shakespeare, not just forward 400 years, but also to a language he would have never understood, whilst maintaining the integrity of the overall story and the fluidity of the words is a brilliant trick and one that this highly talented team pulled off in spectacular style.
Review by Terry Eastham
It’s 2017. Forced from their native home of Shakespeare Anthony and Dominique seek asylum in the UK. Unbeknown to them, their identical twins they believed to have been killed in civil war twenty years earlier, are also residing in the UK and to confuse matters further, both sets of twins share the same name.
Only speaking Shakespearean, the twins are quickly mistaken for their London twins who speak only Street, causing chaos. Double Trouble is a hilarious reimagining of Comedy of Errors. Each performance will be followed by a talk back.
Through drama, Intermission Youth Theatre engages young people from London’s inner-city communities who are at risk of offending or who lack opportunity and introduces them to Shakespeare, arguably one of the best story-tellers of all time. Each year a new Shakespeare inspired play is developed by Artistic Director Darren Raymond and the youth theatre members, using personal experiences to connect with the themes and stories.
Mark Rylance became a Patron of Intermission Youth Theatre in 2014 after he was deeply
impressed by their performance of Taming Who?
Of this new production and company Mark Rylance has said: “Don’t miss Intermission’s new production. The last two have been two of the most moving, funny and tragic, Shakespeare productions I have seen in the last few years. I became Patron of Intermission because I wanted to be connected with this quality of work, with young people who are as inspiring as these young people. This is a great ensemble with a powerful spirit to their work. Catch them if you can, before they become famous.”
Darren Raymond Director
Cecilia Segar Production Manager
Catherine Morgan Set Designer
Julian McCready Lighting Designer
Elisabeth Tooms Stage Manager
Elleshia Flowers Costume Designer
Intermission Youth Theatre present:
Inspired by Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors
Wednesday 1 November – Saturday 25 November 2017 7.30pm
Intermission, St Saviour’s Church, Walton Place, SW3 1SA. Located behind Harrods, 2 minute walk
from Knightsbridge tube station