The Bomb-itty of Errors, at the Royal George Theatre Center. At its best, hip-hop is intensely theatrical, a forum for pointed social commentary and a means of making personal narratives accessible. In a sense, hip-hop’s strengths can be tied to the Elizabethan era; Shakespeare was a profound social critic and wily bender of genres. And this hip-hop version of his Comedy of Errors is firmly grounded in the Bard’s spirit: audience satisfaction–perhaps the number one priority in Shakespeare’s time–is never in doubt given the cast’s bawdy, rhythmic deliveries of the playwright’s delicious double entendres.
The cast and director Andy Goldberg have taken some liberties, of course: they’ve transformed the identical twins from Syracuse and Ephesus into a quartet of prodigiously talented, girlie-chasing rappers, intrepid MCs who cross paths not only with the usual complement of angry courtesans and jealous wives but with an assortment of oddball characters–a bike messenger who can’t rhyme, a sports-obsessed nun, a Rastafarian doctor. Turntable wizard J.A.Q. provides the funk and beat-heavy backdrop, and the nimble foursome infuses Shakespeare’s farce with a renewed sense of purpose. “It’s all the same with you rappers and rhymers / You’ve got no respect for old-timers,” comments Hasidic jeweler MC Hendelberg. But this script respects its source–so much that Bomb-itty should appeal to hoary academics and hip-hop fans alike.