As well as looking at how we’ve staged The Comedy of Errors, which you can do in the Investigate section, it’s important to think about what you would do if you were staging the play. And, if you can, to perform parts of it yourself.

We encourage you to look at the play, or scenes in the play, and think through the decisions a director makes with their actors:

  • Where is the play set?
  • How are the characters connected?
  • What do the characters want?

Here you can find some key things to think about before staging the play yourself. Even if you’re working towards an exam or preparing for an assignment, it’s important to think about different ways of reading lines or words, and taking a look at the key decisions a director needs to make could really help your essay responses.

  • Key decisions to make

    There are certain things that every director and creative team have to consider when staging The Comedy of Errors. The following key things will be discussed in every production, but the way you answer the questions below can create incredibly different interpretations of the play.

    Egeon’s Story

    • This scene is full of long speeches as Egeon tells his story which sets up the play with a lot of information. How would you help the audience follow this long story ensuring no information is lost? Would you make use of sound effects or other characters?
    • Where would you place Egeon in relation to the Duke, in order to show his position? Would he be surrounded by guards? How close does he get to his execution before the Duke changes his mind?
    • This is the first time we see the world of Ephesus. How could you make use of set and costume to make an impact and tell the audience what kind of world we are in?

    Status and Hierarchy

    • How might the two worlds of Ephesus and Syracuse be represented? Can the hostility between the two worlds be shown in the design of costumes? Do we perhaps see any Ephesians in uniforms carrying weapons?
    • How are the servants in Antipholus of Ephesus' house dressed and how do they behave compared to their masters?
    • How will you stage the final scene where so many people are on stage? How might characters’ status affect where they are in a scene?
    • How do the two Dromios greet their masters? How is this different from how they react to other people in the play?

    Male Versus Female Worlds

    • Men and women have very different roles in Ephesus. Men have more freedom to do what they want. Women are expected to follow certain social rules. How could you show this in how the men and women are dressed? Would the males roles always be played by men?
    • Some period costumes restrict movement such as large skirts, high heels or corsets. What use could you make of this? How might Adriana and Luciana dress in comparison to other women?
    • The social status of the Courtesan is very different to that of Adriana but she is still an important character with a lot of influence in the plot. How would you dress her to make the most of her appearances?

    Within each of these choices, there are lots of key moments and scenes to explore.

    Going back through the Productions page and looking at the different performances we’ve had at the RSC, think about these two areas:

    • Can you see how each Director has suggested the differences between the two worlds of Ephesus and Syracuse, in particular in the scene between Egeon and the Duke in Act 1? Why do you think they have made those choices?
    • How important are the appearances of the women at different stages of the play? How do they fit into the world that the play has been set in?

    Take a look at the Past Productions page for the 2021 production to view the specific choices and thinking that have informed that staging.

For an in depth look into some of the creative choices made for the 2021 production, you can watch our Creative Conversations video below: