Often under-rated as a mechanical farce, The Comedy of Errors, hilarious in its exploitation of mistaken identity, masterly in construction, and brilliant in linguistic invention, is the first of Shakespeare's romantic comedies, deeply moving in the reunions and reconciliations of its conclusion. This, the first major edition since 1988, bases itself directly on the 1623 Folio text and provides helpful explanatory notes. The Introduction, appreciative of the
play's theatrical success over the centuries, argues that it was specifically written for and performed at the Gray's Inn Christmas revels on 28 December 1594, among the first composed by Shakespeare for his new company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Discussion of the play's origins argues that the immediate
source for the frame plot (Egeon and his family) was not Gower's Confessio Amantis, is usually assumed, but a recent Elizabethan short novel, Lawrence Twine's Pattern of Painful Adventures. The main plot is unquestionably based on the Roman dramatist Plautus's Menaechmi, here reprinted in its entirety in a modernized version of William Warner's translation (1595).