The What You Will Shakespeare Company delivers success with all-male cast

What was most authentic to the What You Will Company’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” was the all-male cast that performed the comedy.

In fact, the play was the company’s first to have only men in its cast.

Held at the Channing-Murray Foundation, 1209 W. Oregon St., the play took place in a small, church-like setting, just like a period play of Shakespeare’s time.

What was most authentic to the Shakespearian era was the all-male cast that performed the comedy.

Although the What You Will Company has performed many plays before with all-female casts, this was the first time the guys had full reign of the stage.

Eric Krull, junior in LAS and the play’s director, said this shift from female to male casts is the beginning of a new era for the company.

“In Shakespeare there are very few good female roles, and we decided it was time for a change,” he explained.

This new change or “challenge,” as many of the actors described it, added to the hilarity of the play, and at times, the full-out absurdity of Shakespeare’s words. Men dressing up as women, and then bad-mouthing men, is entertaining to say the least. And funny – very, very funny.

Vincent Del Toral, freshman in Engineering, played two women in the comedy and could not have been more convincing or graceful in heels (he didn’t trip once). He wanted to do something completely opposite from his major, and playing a girl definitely fit the part, he said.

“First thinking about being a girl, and then having to act on top of that, was a real challenge,” he said.

Although the role was difficult, it was also a lot of fun, Del Toral added.

In the end, Brandon Cheney, a graduate student who played Dromio of Ephesus, said, “that’s what made the comedy flow.” And he was right. When there are guys dancing around in dresses, comedy is not hard to come by. Laughter filled the church constantly, and not just soft chuckles. Hearty bellows of laughter echoed off the walls to the point where hearing almost became an issue – almost.

Cheney also added that the physical comedy of the play tends to get the audience hooting.

He explained that aside from men playing women, another benefit of an all-male cast was the slapstick, physical comedy involved. Hitting, kicking, shoving, punching – you name it, it happened on stage.

As Krull pointed out, “the cast just clicked with one another.”

The chemistry was apparent – the scenes flowed effortlessly and humorously, which made the combat all the more entertaining.

“Everyone really gave 110%,” he added.

A week before the show, cast members were putting in two to three hours of practice a day, Krull said.

This extra practice not only helped with the physical comedy, but also the old-fashioned humor that showed in the actors’ facial expressions and vocal inflection.

Isaac Tan, senior in LAS, said he embraced this kind of traditional comedic performance.

Tan, who originally said he hated the idea of being in a play, would arch one eyebrow and have the crowd in a fit of giggles.

Cheney said that the all-male cast experience was the most fun he has had thus far while working with the company.

“We all really bonded, and it felt more like playing on a team than performing in a play,” he said.