THE COMEDY OF ERRORS (DIE KOMÖDIE DER IRRUNGEN) is usually considered to be one of Shakespeare’s earliest plays. Based on a work by the Roman comic playwright Plautus, it concerns two sets of identical twins that were separated shortly after birth. Years later the twins end up in the same town unaware of the others’ existence. What follows is a series of hilarious mistaken identities that wreak havoc not only on the twins themselves but on the citizens of the town as well. The play is a wild theatrical event full of slapstick, beatings, arrests and accusations of infidelity and theft. But, in the end, chaos gives way to love and reconciliation. The play is one of Shakespeare’s most farcical comedies. It is also his shortest, making it audience-friendly and a good introduction to his works.
Although essentially a light entertainment, the play touches on the themes of xenophobia, love and marriage, truth versus illusion and the master-slave relationship. It has often been adapted for stage and screen. One of the best known adaptations for the musical theatre is THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.