Taunton Thespians on tour

The Merry Wives of Windsor
Taunton Thespians on tour

TAUNTON Thespians have returned to the classics for their 2013 tour of The Merry Wives of Windsor, after last summer’s drenched tour of Terry Pratchett’s Lord and Ladies.

The Shakespearean romp opened at Bishop’s Hull on Tuesday, with the emphasis on the “Carry on Falstaff” aspects of the comedy, said to have been written in response to Queen Elizabeth’s request for more of the Fat Knight.

Co-directors Michael Gilbert and Jane Edwards bring a celebratory atmosphere to the piece as Sir John Falstaff, weary after his battles in the history plays, has repaired to Windsor. There, his appetite for food and drink has emptied his purse, and his continued stay at the Garter needs more funds. His plan is to seduce the wives of two of the town merchants, both of who he thinks have taken a fancy to him.

They haven’t, and we watch as his preening attempts at seduction end ingloriously, in a basket full of dirty laundry, dressed as an old woman rumoured to be a witch, and finally with horns on his head, pinched to a pulp by faux fairies.

There are terrific performances – notably from Helen Mirren lookalike Alison Haines as Mistress Ford, Lucy Monagahan as the duplicitous Mistress Quickly, Brian Lewis as the Welsh parson and from Maat (correct) Ward as Sir John. He is decades too young for the role, and has some problems with his flowing locks, but it’s a sly and seductive reading of this old dog.

And the light goes down round Hern’s Oak at just the right time for the fairies.

See it at Muchelney Abbey on Saturday 29th June or at Dillington House next Friday 5th July. GP-W


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