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The Merry Wives of Windsor: Coming to a park near you

By Barbara Popel on July 26, 2013

As always, an enjoyable evening of the silly side of Shakespeare, plein air, with The Fools.  This production of Shakespeare’s comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor clips along at a fine pace, ably directed by Catriona Leger.  All the actors (save Matthew John Lundvall as Falstaff) play multiple roles, and do a fine job of differentiating their characters with rapid costume changes, vocal inflections and physical quirks.  Their clear articulation – a challenge in an outdoor setting with plentiful ambient noise – is much appreciated.  We are able to enjoy the bon mots and verbal dexterity, rather than straining to hear.  This may be a comedy troupe, but they’re also serious about their Shakespeare.

Simon Bradshaw has a particularly enjoyable time, perhaps just this side (well, sometimes the other side) of over-acting.  He’s consistently hilarious in every one of his roles.  His Dr. Caius is an over-the-top parody of how an Englishman would think a Frenchman would behave.   His simultaneous performance of the ne’er-do-wells Bardolf and Nym is grand.

John Doucet is a match for Bradshaw in the comedy department.  He’s an absolute hoot as the blonde-wigged suitor Fenton, and splendid as the choleric Master Ford.

Katie Ryerson is a delight as Magistrate Shallow, then morphing into Mistress Ford.  She is ably matched by Melanie Karin as Mistress Page and several other characters, including the weedy suitor Slender.

Geoff McBride does a great over-ripe Mistress Quickly and a very funny Welsh preacher, Evans.

Lundvall as Falstaff is physically convincing, but perhaps not as saturnine as Shakespeare intended.

Actors: Simon Bradshaw (Master Page - in background), Katie Ryerson (Mistress Ford), Melanie Karin (Mistress Page). Photo by Andrew Alexander.

Actors: Simon Bradshaw (Master Page – in background), Katie Ryerson (Mistress Ford), Melanie Karin (Mistress Page). Photo by Andrew Alexander.

 

With the many scenes and characters, it’s helpful that the colours of the gorgeous costumes give the audience a clue as to which of the two middle class households the husbands and wives belong to, and who is being paired up with whom in the matrimonial department.  The rest of the costumes are equally attractive.  It’s so nice that The Fools have abjured motley for this production!

Bring a blanket or a lawn chair, bug repellant, and rain gear if the weather looks threatening.  Yes, they’ll perform if it showers a bit but not if there’s a deluge or lightening. And bring some cash – $15/head is suggested for the pass-the-hat after the show.

Good entertainment for the whole family.  If the kids sit near the front, they might even get to be part of the action in one of the final scenes!