The archive of Europe and UK's most-established open-air Shakespeare touring theatre company.

Extracts from Press Reviews 1981-2007


The Stage review of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS at The Roman Theatre, Verulamium St Albans

One of the Bard's earlier plays, this piece is often considered simplistic in comparison to other classics. Brimming with raucous humour and elements of pure slapstick, it can at first raise the question ''can this really be the same writer who gave us Lear?"

However, the message is deceptive, for it appears that the rich, yet bouncy, dialogue is filled with hidden meanings and thought provoking depth.

Theatre Set-up have done a wonderful job in presenting this piece in its most probable intended form, complete with prologue and a style which gives the impression that the characters themselves have created the play. For this particular story, Shakespeare himself was most likely inspired by a work of Plato's, therefore the presentation is dressed with ancient Greek garb. In telling the tale of two sets of identical twins, who are separated by a shipwreck yet reunited later in life by a series of complex situations, the energetic cast excel with their unanimously enthusiastic performances.

All playing multiple roles, it would be unfair to single out any individuals, but it must be said that Alex Marshall (playing one of the Dromios) possesses a mobile face and a comic charisma which makes him notably watchable. Wendy Macphee who also adds atmosphere with some tasteful harp playing, presides over the proceedings with a subtle, mature dignity.

In its setting of the open air Roman Theatre, and blessed with an evening of fine weather, this was Shakespeare in its purest form, yet cleverly made accessible to a modern audience.

The Stage

Mike Martin



The tranquil setting of Ventnor Botanic Garden was awash with laughter as Theatre Set-up performed Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors at the weekend. Recognised as the UK's longest- established professional (outdoor) touring company, Theatre Set-Up features actors from across the country, including Ryde-based Peter Lundie Wager.

The story revolves around two sets of twins of the same name - one set noblemen and one set of slaves - who were separated many years before.

Peter Lundie Wager was excellent as Dromio of Syracuse, the slave of Antipholus of Syracuse, who was played by Tony Portacio. This hapless pair arrive in another land, where they are mistaken for their unknown twins, Dromio of Ephesus, who was played by Alex Marshall and his boss, Antipholus of Ephesus, played by Jonathan Gunning.

Confused? You could easily have been if you weren't concentrating fully on this fast-moving farce, where one twin ended up with a wife he didn't know and numerous other comic situations arose. But all the characters were well defined, even though each member of the cast had several roles to play.

Jo Price was particularly good as she switched between male and female roles, including the Duke of Ephesus, Luciana the spirited noblewoman, and a courtesan who loves jewellery. Jenni Lea-Jones excelled as her sister, Adriana, who was married to one of the Antipholuses and was constantly plunged into joy or despair, depending on how her real or false husband treated her. Christopher Terry handled the roles of Egeon the merchant, Angelo the goldsmith and the strange Doctor Pinch with skill, while artistic director Wendy Macphee was superb as gentle Emilio, wife to Egeon.

With musical themes from Orpheus in the Underworld, period costumes and three tents from which to enter and exit the stage area at speed, this clever outdoor performance in the New Zealand Garden was well worth seeing.


Kate Young

Friday August 10 200

The play was THE COMEDY OF ERRORS and even if, like my kids, the very thought of watching Shakespeare makes you want to yawn, we were in for an absolute treat.

Complicated as the plot may be, it is incredibly easy to follow when it's presented as well and as enthusiastically as it is by 'Theatre Set-Up', the company who've been bringing their touring play to the island for the last 22 years.

It is - even for a 21st century audience - hilariously funny and, if you want a top quality evening out (every evening until Sunday), I couldn't recommend it more highly.

Whatever you, do don't miss it because you think that Shakespeare isn't your thing. Give it a chance - because you might just be surprised at how much you can enjoy it.

LONAN 3's blog

Isle of Man


(on the performance at Peel Castle)


Theatre Set-up gives a captivating Shakespeare performance

Aegeon, the old merchant tells his life story. ''I married, and two sons, identical twins were born. At the same moment a poor woman gave birth to identical twins. I bought these boys, so that they might become servants to my sons."

The complications following these events were just the thing for Shakespeare. Theatre Set-Up gave a captivating interpretation at Castle Doorwerth. Founded an 1976 this company does Shakespeare theatrical performances in several countries.

Wendy Macphee, no longer one of the youngest players, is the founder of this very special company. She plays a small harp, seated in a corner of the Knights Hall, but keeps a close eye on the other seven actors. Now and then she leaves her instrument and appears like a real, almost royal lady to play her part.

It goes without saying that such a professional English company, which specialises in Shakespeare, has a high level of performance. The stage is already set: the stately Knights Hall, with steps, antique chairs and window seats. Costumes and shoes are colourful, masks and wigs help to create the proper atmosphere of the era. The women are dressed in virgin white or fiery red, and the men are clad in colourful garments. It is a pleasure to hear the old English, the dialogues and the animated voices. At a rapid pace altercations are shot into the audience who follow the dialogues with intense concentration.

There is a real connoisseur in the audience, a professor from Arizona. She and her husband are staying with friends in Deventer: ''This is a special treat for us'', she says, with a broad smile.

With abundant body language the actors succeed in carrying the essence of the story, the tension increasing organically. One moment theatrically, the other lightheartedness prevails. There is passion and seduction as well as intention to murder. But it is typical of Shakespeare that the drama which is meant to make you sad, is interspersed with that specific humour.


by Maria Derckx, (translated by Kitty Brongers)

June 29 2007

Performance in Castle Doorworth, The Netherlands.