Comedy Of Errors — Acts IV, V, Reveal
Editor’s Note (That’s me. I’m the writer, editor, producer, director, and sole responsible party of the following atrocity): I done messed this one up pretty bad. I read the entire play without knowing that two of the characters were actually four characters. Read all about it here in last week’s bloggy. Then, please enjoy laughing at my own, egregious comedy of errors. If you follow the bouncing ball all the way to the end, you will see, in real time, where I come face to face with my grand oopsie doops.
We return! And Angelo is telling a merchant that Antipholus owes him money for a chain. Thrilling.
Enter Antipholus. He tells Dromio to buy him a rope. Whoa!
This chain is the real deal. People can’t stop talking about it. And no one seems to know exactly where it is or whether or not Antipholus already bought it, paid for it, and gave it to his wife. Oh, so he’s married to Adriana again? Bollocks!
An officer enters and Angelo demands Antipholus be arrested for not paying for the chain. The officer says he will arrest him and Antipholus is cool with that but only til he can pay his bail. Which will be soon.
Dromio enters with news of a ship and everyone (including the officer) seem to forget about Antipholus’s arrest. Dromio is adamant that his master sent him to the ship to “hire waftage” but Antipholus denies it and calls his servant a “drunken slave,” claiming he sent him for a rope. Which he did. I can attest to that much, sir.
Ok, back to the arrest. Antipholus sends Dromio to fetch Adriana to help bail him out (I presume), and then he tells the officer to hie him away.
Adriana and Luciana speak of Antipholus. Adriana has nothing but unkind words for her … I want to say “husband” but it’s been going back and forth the whole play (see Acts I, II, and III).
He is deformed, crooked, old and sere
Ill-faced, worse bodied, shapeless everywhere;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind;
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
This is the kind of Shakespeare I love to read. Not just because it is terrific slander, but these are the sounds of diabolical poetry. It reminds me of many a Hamlet soliloquy. But I get ahead of myself.
Dromio enters and delivers the news that Antipholus has been arrested and needs money that is in his desk. Luciana goes to fetch it. Dromio and Adriana speak briefly about the pressing of time which I suppose is intended to indicate urgency. To me it’s just a yawn.
Luciana returns with the money and gives it to Dromio who rushes back to bail out Antipholus.
Antipholus is flabbergasted upon seeing Dromio. He doesn’t know why his slave has brought him his money. I don’t think he understands he’s been arrested or what is happening anywhere at all at any give moment. Where for awhile, this was the work of comedy, all his egregious errors. … Ah! I just got the play. Neat. … Now Antipholus’ diseased mind only saddens me. I am hopeful that everything will turn out OK for him in the end.
A courtezan enters and seems to know Antipholus. He asks him whether Antipholus has his chain that was promised. Antipholus responds by calling the courtezan Satan. Of course he does. The courtezan doesn’t seem to be bothered by the insult, in fact, he invites Antipholus to dinner (I imagine to find our more about his chain?). Dromio tells his master to “expect spoon-meat; or bespeak a long spoon” because, of course “he must have a long spoon that must eat with the devil.” Doy.
Dromio and Antipholus leave and the courtezan shines some long overdue light on the state of things. He says:
Now, out of doubt Antipholus is mad,
Else would he never so demean himself.
A ring he hath of mine worth forty ducats,
And for the same he promised me a chain:
Both one and other he denies me now.
The reason that I gather he is mad.
Fair enough, courtezan. Thanks for clearing up what I have long suspected.
He takes it upon himself to go and tell Antipholus’ wife of her husband’s “lunatic” state. That oughtta show him.
The officer and Antipholus await Dromio’s return. He arrives with news that he gave Antipholus’ money — 500 ducats — for a rope. Antipholus calls Dromio a villain because that’s an insane amount for a rope. And he didn’t even want a rope! What a dope!
Dromio tells the officer more about how Antipholus beats him regularly. Then Adriana and Luciana appear. Antipholus beats Dromio and then he beats a new guy named Pinch. Adriana says her husband is mad. Pinch calls him Satan, which I guess is just an insulting name people throw around. Oh, what a comedy of errors!
Things escalate rather fast. It is a scene of a madman trying to prove he is not mad. He threatens to beat everyone and pluck his own eyes out.
Some things are explained and it may be that we are all just mired in one big misunderstanding. But Antipholus and Dromio rush offstage and then come back with swords, scaring everyone else away.
Angelo meets Antipholus on the street and immediately calls him out for wearing a chain he claims is his. There was some discussion about this chain before. Antipholus then claimed he knew nothing about it. Yet here he is, flaunting the chain in public. Explain that, Antipholus! You can’t, can you?
A “Second Merchant” won’t put up with any of this nonsense. He has a pretty decent line here:
Fie on thee, wretch! ‘Tis pity that thou livest
To walk where any honest man may resort.
Antipholus doesn’t have a friend in the world, does he?
They draw. Which means they fight with swords, Antipholus and this Second Merchant chap.
Adriana is here, too. She cries out to “hurt him not” for he is mad. Poor guy. I’m still unsure whether he actually is mad or if this is all just one gigantic misunderstanding. I’m hopeful it’s the latter, given the nature of the play, its title, and my cumbersome read on it.
Antipholus runs away and a bunch of others follow after him. Adriana has a lengthy discussion with some woman named Amelia. They talk about her husband’s (so he’s back to being her husband again? Cool.) fragile mind. I don’t know who Amelia is or who she thinks she is but she ends up telling Adriana to leave Antipholus with her so she can fix him.
Oh no she dint!!
Yeah, she did.
A duke enters. Huzzah. Hopefully this guy will put an end to all this lunacy.
Ok. So they’re at an abbey and maybe Amelia is the abbess and she locked the gate behind Antipholus after he ran in. Maybe she’s playing that he claimed “sanctuary” in some backwards way and that’s why she won’t allow anyone in. But Adriana pleads her case to this Duke and begs him to intervene and get the abbey gate open so she can go to Antipholus, who is mad.
A servant enters and tells Adriana that his “master” has singed off his beard hair with fire. I can only imagine that he’s speaking of Antipholus.
Antipholus shows his face and no one cringes at the sight of him. So if his beard was burned off, they all have excellent poker faces of their own.
Antipholus tells the Duke that this very day his wife, Adriana locked him out of his own house. This sent him to fetch a chain but he never saw the chain yet the goldsmith claimed he did upon which time Antipholus was arrested and sent back home for “certain ducats” but found none at his house when he met his wife and her sister (Luciana) and a whole slew of other crazy, nefarious characters who would do him harm in one way or another and they all fell upon him and bound him til he freed himself with his teeth, thereby gaining his freedom and ran immediately to the abbey where he found the duke and beseeched he deliver justice and satisfaction.
Riiiiiiight. Actually a lot of that does ring a bell from the text. But whaaaaa?
Oh man here comes a stinger.
Aegon reveals himself to be Antipholus’ father and everyone is just kinda like, “Ok, that’s cool, I guess. Not sure why any of us should care but good for you, boss.”
Now there are two Dromios. I’m not even kidding. One from Syracuse and the other from Ephesus.
Oh my sweet Lord, I’m dumb.
Have there been two Antipholuses as well, this entire time?! I’m just now at the end of the play realizing that….
Seriously, I’m too stupid to live.
I’m too embarrassed to go back and check but I know that every time Antipholus spoke, the text was attributed to “Antipholus of Syracuse” or “of Ephesus.” I don’t think I ever realized they were two different characters.
I am the worst! This is terrible! I misread the entire play!
Oh my God. I have problems. Just give me the Reveal so I can tuck my head between my legs and shuffle off to bed, please.
As previously mentioned — heck, I wrote an entire bloggy about my numbskullery — I got this play entirely wrong. Put aside the whole duplicate twin characters I mistook for single ones, I really didn’t have a handle on anything that was going on. Not from the very start. I blame this mainly on my reading habits. You see, I tend to read these plays late at night as I’m two shakes and a peer away from sleep. I wish there was more time in the day for reading but that’s just not in the cards as I’m now a Dad of three. But all that is neither here nor there. These are but pitiful excuses for truth: I missed the point and the plot because I wasn’t paying enough attention.
To my credit though, here’s what’s really going on at the very beginning of this play. Egeon (not to be mistaken for a Ghostbuster or a Conqueror of Westeros) is sentenced to death because there is some archaic law that prohibits merchants from Syracuse to set foot in Ephesus. Ok. Was that obvious in the text?! I’ll have to go back and check. But from that first misstep, things just spiraled.
I now know that there are two Antipholus characters and two Dromios. Wherefore art thou, second Dromio? I dunno.
Because I so badly butchered this one, I’m not even going to attempt to reveal the actual story here. Feel free to look it up, or read the play yourself if you haven’t already. There’s no way you could do a worse job with it than I have.
Maybe someday when this mad journey through Shakespeare’s works is over, I’ll revisit Comedy of Errors. But that’s for Future Bry to decide. Present Bry is about to get his Corlianus on. And yeah, I realize how dirty that sounded.
If you’ve got nothing better to do between now and the end of September, why don’t you join me in a Shakespeare read? I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?