Comedy of Errors takes to the stage at Stratford

Joseph Adelakun plays Aegeon in The Comedy of Errors. Photograph: Richard Davenport

Joseph Adelakun plays Aegeon in The Comedy of Errors. Photograph: Richard Davenport - Credit: Archant

“Am I in earth, in heaven, or in hell?”

The two sets of identical twins may find themselves unsure of this in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, as they get caught up in a tale of mistaken identity and reigning chaos.

And similarly, audiences of this bold production are sure to experience all these sensations as they scale the heights of the Bard’s language at Stratford Circus Arts Centre next week.

“It’s a universal story about being separated from your family and finding them again,” explained Joseph Adelakun, who plays Aegeon, father of one of the sets of twins in this National Theatre production.

In Ben Power’s energetic adaptation, the merchant Aegeon opens the play by leading a song of his family’s tale of ship-wreck, 33 years ago. The audience is then swept up in the colour of carnival life, as the brothers face comedic confusion, arrests and multiple mistaken identities before a final joyful reunion.

Designed with a young audience in mind, the play has been scaled back to one hour and just eight characters. But Joseph insists the audience experiences the full impact of the story.

“Everything is more or less exactly as it was written,” he said.

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“It’s still English but it’s a different kind of English. I think the director has adapted it so there’s lots of running around, singing and dancing.”

Joseph, 27, who grew up in Newham and still lives in Canning Town, is cast in his first major Shakespearean part.

“I love the play, I think it’s hilarious,” he said.

“My character’s got quite a serious role but it’s a really funny show.”

But what’s it like to perform in the borough where he grew up?

“I’m really looking forward to not having to travel to the other side of town,” Joseph laughed.

“It means a lot of friends and family can come and visit it without travelling too far.

“National Theatre is a world-wide institution and I think it’s great it’s come to my home town and a brilliant opportunity for me and the people of Newham.”

The Comedy of Errors will visit the Stratford Circus Arts Centre from Tuesday, November 24 to Saturday, November 28.

Newham school pupils will be visiting from Tuesday to Friday; the play is open to members of the public at 11.30am and 3pm on Saturday 28. Tickets cost £6.50-£8.50 at