June through August, 2023
Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: Mirth crackles in ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ in Baileys Harbor
Read excerpts from Warren Gerds’ review of The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Marcella Kearns.
BAILEYS HARBOR, Wis. (WFRV)
John Falstaff got nabbed again last night.
Three times in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” Falstaff ends up with people laughing out loud at his folly fed by hubris – an inflated view of self. Falstaff is such a human hot air balloon.
But Falstaff keeps coming back. Keeps getting caught.
But is he funny!
Sir John Falstaff is one of the favorite comic characters in the rogue’s gallery of William Shakespeare, and there are plenty.
There is another one in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” – Frank Ford. Jealousy is his undoing.
Falstaff & Ford. Sounds like a vaudeville duo. They don’t sing or dance or tell jokes. The jokes are on them.
In the Door Shakespeare production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” the two are portrayed by experts who are somewhat in a league of their own in skills with comedic capers.
Falstaff is portrayed by Mark Corkins, who huffs and puffs a lot as he plays on Falstaff’s girth and prodigious porcine poundage. Like Falstaff’s size, there is much more to his characterizations – a ton of nuance and expression and grandiose-oscity.
Ford is portrayed by Matt Daniels, a walking encyclopedia of comedic expression finesse. One minute of watching his face, coupled with body English, is like a Fourth of July fireworks finale in all the different wondrous flashes they offer.
And there these guys are to be had – wood chips beneath their feet, monolithic maple tree above their head – doing their magnificent stuff outdoors in the special atmosphere that is Door Shakespeare.
These guys are the icing on a cake that includes spunky, smart direction by Marcella Kearns and abundant lively touches.
To summarize Shakespeare’s plotting is akin to describing the innards of a rocket ship. The piece has to do with marriage and love and foolish attempts to tip each.
In concept, Marcella Kearns dresses the yarn in the present. Costumes are current, with the husbands’ suits super-tailored and the footwear of the main males particularly guy-jaunty and quality-crafted.
Being a comedy, action is lively. But there are special touches of physicality. Some of the male entrances (a running roll across the stage) and exits (flying leaps from the raised stage) show a bit of bravado.
The “show” starts with music. Four women sing the folky, original “Whenever you’re in Windsor, you’re at home.” The performance closes with the entire cast, many bearing instruments, capping things off with a joyous song.
Acting is laced with keenly wrought interaction. Key are the wives, vividly expressed by Allie Babich as Mistress Ford and Amy Ensign as Mistress Page.
Much meshes in the company’s presentation, assisted by spotlight touches by Carrie Hitchcock as the calculating Mistress Quickly, James Carrington as the oh-so-flexible husband George Page and Dan Klarer as quirky Welsh pastor Sir Hugh Evans, who is not so nifty but highly comical with a broadsword.
Step back, and this piece has the aura of being honed and honed over centuries. Everything is tightly interlocking, and this company grabs hold of the finessing.
To read Warren Gerds full review, go here.