Timeline

The timeline below shows some of the most important moments from each act.

Act 1

Key Scene

Egeon tells a tragic story

A man narrates next to a wooden puppet.

Egeon tells his story in the 2005 production.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Egeon, a merchant from Syracuse, arrives in Ephesus, where Syracusans are not welcome. If they can’t pay a fine, they are executed. Egeon is here to search for his son, Antipholus of Syracuse, and tells a tragic tale of how he and his wife were separated in a shipwreck, each with one of their twin sons (both called Antipholus) and one of their son’s servants (also twins, both called Dromio). After his remaining son goes missing while searching for his lost brother, Egeon follows to try to find his family. Solinus, the Duke of Syracuse, takes pity on him and gives Egeon a day to raise the money to save himself.

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse get a warning

A man stands, smiling.

Antipholus of Syracuse in the 2018 First Encounters with Shakespeare production.

Photo by Sam Allard Browse and license our images
Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant Dromio of Syracuse also arrive at Ephesus. They are advised to say they are from Ephesus to avoid trouble. Antipholus of Syracuse has been trying to find his twin for the past seven years and feels lost. He gives a thousand gold marks to Dromio of Syracuse and tells him to stash it at the Centaur pub where they will stay.

The first case of mistaken identity

Antipholus of Syracuse reaches out to strike Dromio of Ephesus.

Dromio of Ephesus is threatened by Antipholus of Syracuse in the 1938 production.

Photo by Ernest Daniels Browse and license our images
Unknown to these new arrivals, their twins Dromio and Antipholus have been living in Ephesus for years. Now Dromio of Ephesus approaches Antipholus of Syracuse, thinking that this Antipholus is his master. Antipholus asks him if the gold is safe. Dromio of Ephesus doesn’t know about any gold and Antipholus thinks he’s joking. Dromio of Ephesus tells Antipholus of Syracuse he’s late for dinner and his wife Adriana is not happy. Antipholus of Syracuse denies being married. Frustrated, he hits Dromio and heads to the Centaur.

Act 2

Key Scene

Luciana tries to stop Adriana’s jealousy

A woman comforts another woman.

Luciana (standing) and Adriana in the 2009 production.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Antipholus of Ephesus is late for dinner, again. His wife Adriana questions why husbands have more freedom than wives. Her sister Luciana is not married but advises her to have patience. Dromio of Ephesus returns and tells Adriana that her husband is mad and is denying she exists. Adriana blames her absent husband for ruining her beauty and spirit with neglect. Luciana thinks Adriana is driving her husband away with jealousy, which will only hurt herself.

Adriana mistakes Antipholus of Syracuse for her husband

A pregnant woman caresses a man.

Antipholus of Syracuse with Adriana in the 2021 production.

Photo by Pete Le May Browse and license our images
Returning from the Centaur pub, Antipholus of Syracuse is satisfied his money is safe. He runs into Adriana and Luciana, who assume he is Adriana’s errant husband.The sisters scold him, accusing him of having an affair. Antipholus of Syracuse is confused but follows them home, intrigued by the mystery. Dromio of Syracuse decides the women must be witches but follows his master.

Act 3

Antipholus of Ephesus is shut out of his own home

The Dromio twins are separated by a door.

The Dromio twins on opposite sides of the door in the 2005 production.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Antipholus of Ephesus arrives home with his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. He tells his friends Angelo and Balthazar to invent a good excuse for being out for so long but finds his front door locked. From the other side of the door, he hears Dromio of Syracuse refusing to let him in. Antipholus of Ephesus calls his housemaid but she thinks her master is already in and eating supper so tells him to go away. Antipholus threatens to break his own door down but Balthazar talks him out of it.

Antipholus of Ephesus decides to punish his wife

A woman in a red leather bodysuit.

The Courtesan in the 2021 production.

Photo by Pete Le May Browse and license our images
Antipholus of Ephesus decides to go to the Tiger tavern for a while. He has asked Angelo, who is a goldsmith, to make a chain as a present for his wife Adriana. After being locked out of his own home, Antipholus decides she does not deserve it and says he'll give it to a courtesan he knows instead.

Antipholus of Syracuse falls for Luciana

A woman in an orange dress leans against a pink door.

Luciana in the 2012 production.

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
Luciana tries to persuade Antipholus of Syracuse to comfort his wife, thinking he is her brother-in-law. To make things more complicated, Antipholus of Syracuse declares his love for Luciana. Luciana is horrified and runs to find her sister.

Key Scene

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse think Ephesus is bewitched

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse embrace.

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse in the 2009 Young People's Shakespeare production.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Dromio of Syracuse enters, terrified. He tells his master that the kitchen maid, a very large woman, is claiming she’s his wife. Master and servant decide that Ephesus is full of witchcraft and they should leave. Angelo enters and gives Antipholus of Syracuse the gold chain, saying he’ll collect the money later. Antipholus takes the chain but is utterly confused.

Act 4

Antipholus of Ephesus is arrested

Antipholus of Ephesus is held back by an officer.

Antipholus of Ephesus with an officer in the 2005 production.

Angelo sees Antipholus of Ephesus coming out of a brothel and asks him to pay for the chain. However, as this Antipholus has not seen the chain he won’t pay for it. They argue and Antipholus of Ephesus is arrested. Dromio of Syracuse enters to say he’s found them a ship to escape on, but he has found the wrong master and Antipholus of Ephesus knows nothing about this plan. Confused, Antipholus of Ephesus sends Dromio of Syracuse to Adriana to raise bail.

Adriana thinks her husband is lost

A woman in a floral smock and shoulder bag.

Adriana in the 2009 Young People's Shakespeare production of The Comedy of Errors.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Luciana has told Adriana about Antipholus’ words of love, thinking they are from Adriana’s husband. Adriana is shocked but says she’ll pray for her husband. Dromio of Syracuse enters and tells them of Antipholus’ arrest. Adriana gives him the bail money and tells him to bring Antipholus home.

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse think they are mad

A man sits in a light suit and hat.

Antipholus of Syracuse in the 2000 production.

Photo by Mark Hall Browse and license our images
Antipholus of Syracuse is confused that everyone in Ephesus seems to know him, although he’s a stranger. He is convinced the place is full of witches. Dromio of Syracuse enters with the bail money, surprised to see Antipholus out of jail. Antipholus asks him if he’s found a ship to leave Ephesus. Dromio says he’s already told him this. Both men start to think they are going mad. The Courtesan enters and, believing Antipholus of Syracuse to be Antipholus of Ephesus, asks for the chain he’s promised her in exchange for a ring she gave him. Thinking she’s a witch, the men run off. The Courtesan decides to tell Adriana that her husband has gone mad.

Adriana tries to cure her husband

A woman clings onto a man's leg.

Antipholus of Syracuse and Adriana in the 2007 production.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Adriana takes Pinch, a conjurer, to find her husband and bring him back to his senses. They find Antipholus of Ephesus, who is beating Dromio of Ephesus, and assume he is possessed. When Pinch tries to exorcise him, Antipholus of Ephesus get violent. He is subdued and taken to be locked up at home. Adriana leaves, agreeing to pay her husband’s debts.

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse frighten everyone

Dromio points at Antipholus of Syracuse.

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse in the 2012 production.

Photo by Keith Pattison Browse and license our images
Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse appear, swords drawn. Everyone runs off, thinking they have escaped and are out for blood. Antipholus of Syracuse tells Dromio that witches are afraid of swords and they will leave Ephesus that night.

Act 5

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse take cover

A man holds a gold chain.

Antipholus of Syracuse with the gold chain in the 2005 production.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Angelo sees Antipholus of Syracuse wearing the gold chain and, mistaking him for Antipholus of Ephesus, says he owes him payment for the chain. As they argue, Adriana enters and tells Angelo that her husband is mad. They chase after Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse, who take shelter in a priory.

Emilia refuses to let Adriana enter the priory

An Abbess in a full habit.

Emilia in the 2009 Young People's Shakespeare production.

Photo by Ellie Kurttz Browse and license our images
Emilia, who is in charge of the priory, demands to know why Adriana wants to enter. She accuses Adriana of driving her husband mad with her jealousy. Luciana defends her sister but Adriana says maybe Emilia is right. Emilia refuses to let Adriana in, saying her husband is now in her care. Luciana tells Adriana they will complain to the Duke. They are told the Duke is on his way to oversee the execution of a merchant called Egeon.

Egeon recognises his lost son

A man in a light blue military uniform with gold trim.

Duke Solinus in the 2021 production.

Photo by Pete Le May Browse and license our images
Duke Solinus enters and asks if anyone will pay Egeon’s fine. Adriana asks Solinus to help her husband, Antipholus. The Duke agrees but as they approach the priory, a messenger arrives with news that Antipholus and Dromio have escaped. Confused, Adriana says her husband is in the priory. Antipholus of Ephesus enters with Dromio of Ephesus. Antipholus asks the Duke for justice. Egeon thinks he is looking at Antipholus of Syracuse and is devastated when the son he thinks he raised does not recognise him. Confused, Antipholus of Ephesus tells the Duke the whole day’s events.

Key Scene

Egeon’s family is reunited

The Abbess stands in front of the reunited Antipholus twins.

The Abbess with the two Antipholus twins in the 2021 production.

Photo by Pete Le May Browse and license our images
Emilia leads Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse out of the priory. Everyone is amazed to see the two sets of twins. Emilia recognises Egeon as her husband and the two are reunited. Antipholus of Syracuse immediately recognises his father and, finally understanding, Antipholus of Ephesus offers to pay Egeon’s fine. The family come together at last. Antipholus of Syracuse tells Luciana they can be together. Order is restored and the Dromios exit side by side as equals.

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