Select Page

The thing Bard does that bugs me

by | Jun 19, 2015 | Review | 0 comments

The Comedy of Errors, Bard on the Beach

A squid makes an unscripted, unwelcome, and witless appearance in The Comedy of Errors

I am a big, big fan of Bard on the Beach. Every year, I look forward to Bard’s season and I’m very picky about who I take to those shows: the tickets are like gold as far as I’m concerned.

Artistic director Christopher Gaze and the rest of the company have built a strong and important institution. Gaze provides lots of opportunities for young artists—especially actors and directors—to advance their skills. And Bard has brought me some of the most transcendent theatrical experiences of my life. I’m thinking about Dean Paul Gibson’s first mounting of A Midsummer Night’s Dream a few years ago, for instance.

But there’s something that Bard does that really bugs me: too often, the company dumbs down Shakespeare’s comedies. 

That’s happening right now in director Scott Bellis’s A Comedy of Errors.

Two scenes stand out as particularly egregious examples. In one, a Venus-flytrap puppet munches on fingers and generally requires attention. In another, a puppet squid bangs around in a cooking pot before bursting forth and causing mayhem.

Shakespeare didn’t write either of these puppets into the play, of course. And, in both cases, the puppets upstage the actors, and—crucially—obscure the meaning of the scenes.

Some audience members love this kind of nonsense. They’re convinced they’re enjoying Shakespeare. But they’re not: they’re enjoying a gag that’s distracting them from Shakespeare.

Bellis isn’t the only offender on this front. It’s a fairly common approach at Bard. And I really wish they’d stop it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Freshsheet Reviews logo reversed

Subscribe Free!

Sign up for the FRESH SHEET newsletter and get curated local, national, and international arts coverage — all sorts of arts — every week.


Drop a line to


FRESH SHEET, the reviews and FRESH SHEET, the newsletter are available free. But writing them is a full-time job and arts criticism is in peril. Please support FRESH SHEET by sending an e-transfer to or by becoming a patron on Patreon.

Copyright ©2024 Colin Thomas. All rights reserved.