IF one of the marks of a successful production is to send a reviewer back to the play with renewed respect and insight, then Glen Walford's The Comedy of Errors at Ludlow Festival is a triumphant vindication of her choice.

Probably Shakespeare's first play and certainly his shortest, the piece is constantly patronised, pruned or heavily adulterated. Not here.

The secret of the company's artistic success is to acknowledge and exploit the brilliance of Shakespeare's plotting.

Everything is manically plot-driven; there is no pretence of literary sophistication or psychological subtlety.

Highlighting the elements of frenetic farce is the key to unlocking the play's vastly underrated performance potential.

The result is an evening of hugely inventive exuberance and a convincing consistency of acting style. This was a rare event in summer festival Shakespeare, with an audience without preconceptions relishing a play without pretension.

Even the three minutes of rainfall produced tears of laughter. The cast capitalises on the play's preposterous absurdities by acknowledging them and revelling in them.

In this they are fired and energised by the two superbly vaudevilled Dromios of Matthew Devitt and Roy Holder.

As their bemused masters, the twins Antipholi, Andrew Pollard and Jonathan Markwood, hover captivatingly on the brink of self-parody, as do the hilariously delirious, dementedly tormented Adele Lynch (Adriana) and Louise Shuttleworth (Luciana).

Rodney Ford's stunning set gives us a Turkish Ephesus, secretive, sensual, sinister, a bustling sea port, gateway to all manner of deception and distraction.

It brilliantly exploits the resonance of Ludlow Castle's inner bailey and is magically lit by Mark Dymock.

We have waited too long in Ludlow for a production of such coherence and conviction.