Shakespeare at Winedale

The Comedy of Errors Play Synopsis

ASC Comedy of Errors Graphic

The play opens as Egeon, a Syracusian merchant, arrives in the mysterious town of Ephesus.Egeon seeks his son Antipholus and his servant Dromio, who both left Syracuse five years ago in search of their identical twins, from whom they were tragically separated during childhood.  Because of a longstanding dispute between Ephesus and Syracuse, Ephesian law states that any Syracusian who sets foot in Ephesus must be sentenced to death. However, after Egeon tells the tale of his familial loss before the Duke of Ephesus, the Duke pities him, granting him the rest of the day to raise a thousand marks to buy his freedom. If he cannot raise the money, however, his execution will take place as planned.

Soon afterwards, Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse show up in Ephesus, still searching for their twins. By coincidence, the Syracusians’ twins, also named Antipholus and Dromio, live in Ephesus! Antipholus of Syracuse entrusts his servant with a bag of money to bring to their inn. Dromio of Syracuse departs. Almost immediately, Dromio of Ephesus appears and, mistaking Antipholus of Syracuse for his twin, bids him home to dinner with his wife, Adriana. Antipholus is understandably confused and is convinced that Dromio is taunting him. Dromio of Ephesus returns to Adriana and reports that her husband is denying his wife and home.

Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse then meet again. The master questions his servant about his earlier behavior, not realizing he had spoken to his twin instead. Adriana and her sister, Luciana, meet Antipholus and Dromio of Syracuse. They chastise Antipholus for his negligence. Confused, but willing to go along with the women, Antipholus of Syracuse follows Adriana into the house.  Dromio of Syracuse plays doorman.

As wife and mistaken husband enter the house, Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus arrive with Balthasar and Angelo, a goldsmith, and find the door locked. The Ephesian twins attempt to gain entry as Dromio of Syracuse denies them. Barred from his own home, Antipholus of Ephesus departs to dine with a courtesan. Antipholus of Syracuse woos Luciana, who reproaches him for playing false with his wife.

Cases of mistaken identity continue to abound as the Syracusian twins race to leave the city and the Ephesian twins fight accusations of theft, madness and demonic possession due to their twins’ escapades. Several chases, arrests, and one attempted exorcism later, the inhabitants of Ephesus converge to unravel the confusion once and for all.