BWW Review: THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR at Shakespeare & Company Leaves Berkshire Audiences Laughing Out Loud.
THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR is a comedy by William Shakespeare. The Windsor of the play's title is a reference to the town of Windsor, England. It features the character Sir John Falstaff, the knight also featured in Henry IV, Part 1 and Part 2. The play is one of Shakespeare's lesser-regarded works among literary critics but is rather humorous and considered by some to be the most purely farcical of all of his works.
"The Merry Wives of Windsor is Shakespeare having fun. Period," said Director Kevin G. Coleman. "No grand themes. No deep waters. No pushing the Renaissance envelope. When Shakespeare is having fun, it runs the gamut from groaningly predictable to surprisingly sophisticated with every stop in between. Shakespeare was masterful at pleasing his audience. Come enjoy the wisdom and wit of these women of Windsor. It's all in fun." I agree with Coleman's words and can attest that this production delivers upon them.
Falstaff vastly underestimates the Merry Wives in the town of Windsor, as he hatches a frothy scheme to drain their bank accounts and drive their husbands insane with jealousy. Antics ensue as Falstaff continues to overestimate his own ability to dupe good people and pull off his scheme of deceit. With The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare once again proves that the best human foibles are the ones we can laugh at.
The cast includes Martin Jason Asprey (Mr. Frank Ford), Steven Barkhimer (George Page), Gregory Boover (Master Fenton), MaConnia Chesser (Meg Page), Jordan Cobb (Anne Page), Tobias Goodman (Pistol/Simple), Nigel Gore (Sir John Falstaff), Cloteal L. Horne (Mistress Quickly), Jennie M. Jadow (Alice Ford), Madeleine Rose Maggio (Robert Shallow), Bella Merlin (Sir Hugh Evans), and Mary Shalaby (Nym/Rugby). Many of whom we recently enjoyed in the Shakespeare & Company production of Twelfth Night. The troupe is outstanding. Steven Barhimer, Gregory Boover, MaConnia Chesser, Jordan Cobb, Jennie M. Jadow are so at-ease and comfortable in their roles and make the audience feel likewise. Tobias Goodman and Mary Shalaby are especially noteworthy and accomplished particularly given that they are the youngest in the ensemble but keep pace and level with both more seasoned and professional members of the cast. Madeleine Rose Maggio and Bella Merlin both take on roles of the opposite gender with confidence and convection and both make it work well. Cloteal L. Horne is sassy and soulful providing enough attitude to keep things real and some surprise vocals that are impressive as well. Nigel Gore and Martin Jason Asprey seem to have been born to do Shakespeare. Both have well-developed sense of comedic timing. Asprey's banter directly with the audience delights and earns spontaneous mid-scene applause multiple times.
The creative team includes Kevin G. Coleman (Director), Raz Golden (Assistant Director), Diane Healy (Stage Manager), Kathleen Soltan (Assistant Stage Manager), Jim Youngerman (Set Designer), Kiki Smith (Costume Designer), Gwendolyn Schwinke (Voice Coach), Kristin Wold (Movement Director), and Shane Burgett (Associate Technical Director).
Tickets for THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR are available online at https://www.shakespeare.org/or by calling Shakespeare & Company's box office at (413) 637-3353. The show runs from August 8 to September 1. The Roman Garden Theatre is outdoors and wheelchair accessible. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble St. in Lenox, Massachusetts.