DIRECTOR Ben Humphrey has hacked out all the deadwood of intellectual elitism to present a version of Shakespeare that would undoubtedly meet with the approval of the man himself.

The Comedy of Errors is believed to be one of the poet’s first plays and was obviously aimed at the 16th century masses. Humphrey quite clearly understands the Bard’s original business plan and that is why his hilarious take on this tale of mistaken identity hits the spot right from the start.

Humour has no new plots. And that’s precisely why this bombardment of lavatorial gags, tactile teasing and rude noises has the same effect on us as it undoubtedly did with the audiences of 1594.

It works. For while once we would have laughed like the stinking ditches of Tudor times, we now laugh like drains.

And as if sensing something new, the company responds to Humphrey’s perceptive stewardship and delivers a non-stop barrage of madcap humour, quite obviously enjoying their glorious release from the millstone of intellectualisation so often associated with Shakespeare.

Rhian McLean (Adriana) leads the way in what soon becomes a kind of carry-on-up-the-Avon, becoming more shrewish at every passing moment. She is ably assisted by Gemma Martyn-Smith (Luciana), the two becoming the Elizabethan answer to Morecambe and Wise.

There were riveting performances too from Sam Patrick as Antipholus of Syracuse and also from Jamie Kwasnik as his Ephesian namesake. But the real comic cuts of the night were provided by the inimitable Rob Leetham (Dromio of Syracuse) bringing his panto experience firmly to the fore and Edward Manning (Abbess) who milked the British enthusiasm for men in drag as if his life depended on it.

Basically, this production just can’t fail, providing a blend of the Sun newspaper, Ealing comedy, the Keystone Cops and good old music hall slapstick. Produced by Chris Jaeger, it’s an absolute hoot and should not be missed.

The Comedy of Errors runs at the Commandery, Worcester, until Sunday (July 19).