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Review: Cast’s energy propels hip-hop take on Bard

What: The Bomb-itty of Errors Where: Belfry Theatre When: To Aug. 24 Rating: 4.5/5 stars My notes for The Bomb-itty of Errors include the phrase “rude and funny.
Brian Cochrane, left, Jameson Matthew Parker (front top), Niko Koupantsis (front bottom), and David Kaye perform in the Belfry Theatre's production of The Bomb-itty of Errors.

What: The Bomb-itty of Errors

Where: Belfry Theatre

When: To Aug. 24

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

My notes for The Bomb-itty of Errors include the phrase “rude and funny.” This highly entertaining comedy, loosely (very loosely) based on The Comedy of Errors is all that and much more.

The show is a hip-hop retelling of Shakespeare’s farcical comedy. A quartet of young actors — Brian Cochrane, David Kaye, Niko Koupantsis and Jameson Matthew Parker — rap and dance through a mutated contemporary version of The Comedy of Errors, with DJ Oker Chen laying down the beats. It’s similar to top offerings found at fringe theatre festivals, only more fully realized, with superior direction, costumes, set and lighting.

If the Beastie Boys had ever done Shakespeare, it would no doubt look like this. Particularly dazzling on Thursday night were Kaye and Koupantsis, who as the diminutive Dromio twins buzzed about the stage like crazed gnats. The hyperkinetic pair are in continual motion: mugging, dancing and even doing cartwheels, backward somersaults and backflips.

The story is pure farce. As well as the twin Dromios, there are twin Antipholuses (both strong performers, Cochrane plays Antipholus of Syracuse while Parker is Antipholus of Ephesus). As one can imagine, the potential for mixups is bigger than Flavour Flav’s clock necklace.

The Bomb-itty of Errors retains some plot elements from the original play. For instance, Antipholus of Syracuse berates Dromio when he denies knowledge of receiving his master’s money (the cash went to the other Dromio). And Antipholus of Ephesus blows a gasket when his wife, in another misunderstanding, locks him out of the house.

That said, the relationship between the two plays often seems tenuous. (I’m pretty certain Shakespeare never wrote the line: “You stinky weasel — all you do is smoke dust.”) Sometimes it is difficult to know what’s going on, partly because duelling Dromios Kaye and Koupantsis look identical and employ similar mannerisms. That hardly matters, though.

Rather than professing to be an adaptation, The Bomb-itty of Errors uses The Comedy of Errors as a launching pad. It’s worth bearing in mind, too, that Shakespeare created The Comedy of Errors in a magpie-like fashion, filching material from several plays by the Roman dramatist Plautus.

At two hours without intermission, The Bomb-itty of Errors is about 20 minutes too long — the denouement seems to go on a bit. Yet overall, propelled by the cast’s relentless energy, the show gallops. Helped by colourful costumes and set, it comes off as a visual extravaganza, the theatrical equivalent of watching fireworks.

Highlights include Dromio’s description of sexual relations with a large woman and a scene in which Antipholus of Syracuse woos Luciana, delivered as a classic R&B love song complete with cross-dressing 1960s-style backup singers. Smartly directed by Catriona Leger, this version of the show also includes amusing local references (Fernwood Inn, Tofino), which add to the fun.

In short, The Bomb-itty of Errors is certainly da bomb, and no doubt worth the Benjamins (or Bordens) you and your homie will have to lay down to experience this off-the-chain summer entertainment.