As the sun sets around Greenfield Lake, the amphitheater will be illuminated with Cape Fear Shakespeare on the Green’s portrayal of William Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors.”
For 22 seasons, the company’s Shakespeare in the Park productions have offered annual chances to see the Bard’s plays with no admission fees.
“It’s become a known entity that people look forward to,” said director Robb Mann.
This year’s production was one of the first plays written by Shakespeare, and centers around the story of two sets of twins separated at birth. The two sets of twins end up in the same city without the other’s knowledge, inadvertently engaging in a comically bawdy series of mix-ups, mistaken identities and love triangles as they find themselves constantly mistaken for each other.
Using puns, lyricism and word play in addition to slapstick humor, the production creates a comedy of wild mishaps and misunderstandings, including false arrests and beatings, as well as accusations of theft, insanity and possession.
The cast includes University of North Carolina Wilmington students and local Shakespeare enthusiasts.
“They are a very creative group of people, and came up with a lot of great stuff,” Mann said about the troupe.
Though his second time directing, Mann has been involved in more than half of the productions. After months of rehearsal, he leaves on the nights of shows and lets the actors and actresses perform Shakespeare’s two-hour traffic of the stage by themselves.
“I really feel that they’re prepared,” Mann said. “They’ve rehearsed and they can do it.”
The Greenfield Lake amphitheater, a 900-seat outdoor venue, is situated near the banks of the lake itself. As night falls, the stage lights up with costumed players. The 17 actors and actresses work with music, a mobile set and each other to bring viewers into Shakespeare’s farce.
Though the production company, Shakespeare on the Green, has been around for more than two decades, each year is a leap of faith, Mann said.
“Every year we face different challenges,” he explained. ‘This year’s greatest challenge was finding two sets of identical twins.”
All Cape Fear Shakespeare on the Green performances are free to the general public and made possible by donations and volunteers. The company aims to develop and promote outreach activities that seek to strengthen and expand communications and partnerships between other arts educators in Wilmington.
Attending supports the continuation and funding of arts programs throughout the Wilmington community.
“The Comedy of Errors” will be presented Friday, June 13 through Sunday, June 15; Thursday, June 19 through Sunday, June 22; and Thursday, June 26 through Sunday, June 29. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and all shows begin at 8 p.m.