Blog Post #136
For 27 seasons, Bard on the Beach has been presenting Shakespeare plays from June to September, performed in the gorgeous waterfront setting at Vanier Park. This event has become a traditional annual outing for my daughter and me. Every year we look forward to attending at least one of the lavish productions and this year was no exception.
Walking into the tent, for the production of the Merry Wives of Windsor, we were transported to an inn in 1960’s Ontario, complete with a band stand, dance floor, bar tables and stubby beer bottles. The play begins with Open Mic Night and the Mistress Ford and Mistress Page singing in public for the very first time.
The story revolves around Sir John Falstaff’s machinations to seduce both Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page, with the aim of extorting money from them both. Hilarity ensues, when unbeknownst to Falstaff, the women (who are best friends) plot to wreak their revenge.
The play, steeped in the 60’s era decor and ambience was whimsical and funny from start to finish.
The cast was excellent — their musical abilities were as strong as their acting skills. Katey Wright (Mistress Meg Page) and Amber Lewis (Mistress Alice Ford) were perfect as the two best friends who are determined to outwit the disreputable Falstaff. Ashley Wright’s portrayal of Falstaff was faultless — funny and laughable — and oozing with an oily charm.
Ben Elliott delivered a comedic act so hilarious — with his exaggerated comic gestures and his fabulously awkward, slanted gait — his portrayal of Slender was one of my favourites in the show.
Dawn Petten’s stole the spotlight whenever she was on the stage. Even though her lines were few, she shone in her characterization of Simple, with funny facial expressions and body movements.
Jennifer Lines was amazing as Mistress Quickly, a quirky, boisterous housemaid with an awesome voice.
The audience loved Andrew Chown as Dr. Gaius, in his charteuse velvet suit and his preposterously comic French accent. One of my favourite scenes was the fencing duel between Dr. Gaius and Pastor Evans (Andrew McNee). Their antics were impeccably executed and elicited uproarious laughter as the two flailed about without landing a blow.
Kudos to the rest of the exceptional cast who played their parts with great aplomb, talent, humor and energy.
From the set design, to the costumes, choreography, and music, to the writing, direction and fabulous performances, this production of the Merry Wives of Windsor was superb, highly entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.
Watch the trailer: