Shakespeare Takes the Rap


MC Hendelberg, an Orthodox goldsmith in a puffy parka and payess, asks Antipholus and Dromio of Ephesus the riddle of the sphinc. (Yes, the sphinc.) Frustrated, the two brothers reply:

“You and your riddles always leave me stumped/Like the celibate camel that never got humped/Or the barren carpet that never got shagged/Or the prude ear of corn that never got shucked/Or the girl with big funbags that never got—OKAY!”

Shakespeare they’re not, but the four writer-performers of The Bomb-itty of Errors (45 Bleecker) rap their take on Willy’s Comedy with enviable wit and panache. The infectious energy and populist appeal of their show should have MC Stratford-on-Avon spinning in his grave.

Originally a thesis project by several students of NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing, the plot of this “add-rap-tation” runs close by the original. In The Bomb-itty, two sets of identical twins—one named Antipholus the other Dromio—get split up in foster care. One A and D set land in Syracuse, the other in Ephesus. When, many years later, the Syracuse pair elect to stroll through their brothers’ city, a case of mistaken identity occurs—and recurs and recurs.

Backed by DJ J.A.Q., who functions like a Greek chorus with a turntable, the actors speak almost entirely in rhymed verse. The playful language complements the volatile physicality of director Andy Golberg’s production—the show deploys every cheap shot and slapstick move imaginable: bearded men in drag, Three Stooges beatdowns, impotency jokes, yo’ mama routines. There’s even a sports nunnery. Sure, the endless stream of stylistic quotations and musical pastiche reads pomo derivative, but, as one character remarks, “It’s mad catchy.”