BWW Review: THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, Shakespeare's Globe
There's something magical about watching a Shakespeare play being performed at The Globe Theatre, especially on a sunny summer evening. The Merry Wives of Windsor is an intricate play with various subplots and a multitude of characters and in this production, director Elle While places a 1930s spin on things.
Pearce Quigley takes on the role of Sir John Falstaff, a lecherous knight who sets his sights on Mistresses Ford (Bryony Hannah) and Page (Sarah Finigan). He decides that nothing will stand in the way of him getting the women that he wants, not even their husbands. The wives quickly discover that they've both received letters from Falstaff professing his love and decide to work together to get their revenge by humiliating him. Their supportive friendship and the way they gleefully plot against Falstaff is a delight to watch.
Yet so resolute is Falstaff in bedding Mistress Ford, that despite being hidden amongst soiled clothes and thrown in the Thames, he still returns when she invites him again to her home. This time when her jealous husband Frank, who has heard that Falstaff will be at his home, returns Falstaff is forced to disguise himself as a woman and is injured by Frank as he runs away. It is only when he is finally confronted by all those who have conspired to trick him one last time that he relents and agrees to stop his pursuit of the wives.
Padded out with a rotund stomach, rumpled and with a heavy northern accent, Quigley creates a memorable performance. When it is revealed that everyone has worked together to play a trick on Falstaff, Quigley's sad and defeated demeanour brings about audible sympathy from the audience. He gets the loudest laughs and the audience lap up every second of his performance.
Quigley is without a doubt the standout performer in this production, but he's well supported by Hedydd Dylan (as Welsh priest Sir Hugh Evans), Anita Reynolds as Mistress Quickly and Richard Katz as Dr Caius, with his heavy French accent manages to balance the fine line of comedy. The fairy dance is wonderfully choreographed by Sasha Milavic Davies and the score by Frank Moon is brilliantly played by the band who sit above the action on stage.
The slap-stick comedy, which is really ramped up, does take away from Shakespeare's story slightly, but there's still a lot to like about this production. And judging by the audience's reaction last night, they weren't disappointed by what they saw on stage.
Photo Credit: Helen Murray