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March 1, 2010 | by  | in Theatre |
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Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor

Film

Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor is not your average Shakespearian comedy. It doesn’t seek to comment on wider truths of life or love. It’s not there to push any kind of boundary or idea. Your mind will not expand while watching it. You will, however, laugh. A lot.

Merry Wives is the purest of Shakespeare’s comedies. It is a farcical comedy of romantic cross and double cross, centered around a recurring troupe of comic characters returning from a few of his earlier histories. This troupe is headed by Sir John Falstaff, a blustering, blubbery knight who is too busy being a drunken letch to do anything constructive when, for sport as much as for lust, attempts to seduce two married women in parallel. Hilarity ensues. As does much running around, several comedy accents and more than one disguise.

That Merry Wives is such a broad comedy is its greatest strength, and director David Lawrence is very well aware of that. He takes no shame in ringing every ounce of laughter out of this play. Working together with his big cast of Vic students, Lawrence has crafted a boisterous explosion of mirth.

The cast fully commit to the roles, giving Merry Wives a momentum that almost sustains the show’s three hours. It does, however, still feel somewhat overlong and one cannot help but feel that a taut two hours twenty would have been much more satisfying for an audience.

The four leads (Ralph Upton, Louise Burston, Daniel Watterson and Laura Feslier) should be called out for their exceptionally wonderful performances. All four of them demonstrated marked skill in comic timing and found the right pitch of hysteria that milks every moment of funny from something without crossing over into annoying or grating the audience. Benjamin Haddock makes a good go of Falstaff, a task made hard by the odd-out-of characterness of him throughout the piece, but simply failed to woo this audience member.

While slightly distended, Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor was a great night out. Bring a blanket and prepare to chuckle.

Sir John Falstaff and the Merry Wives of Windsor
By William Shakespeare
Directed by David Lawrence
With Ralph Upton, Louise Burston, Alice Pearce, Bailey McCormack, Daniel Watterson, Laura Feslier, Blair Everson, Benjamin Haddock, Dominic McElwee, Tamas Molnar, Vicky Roper, Helen Sims, Kirsty Bruce, Shannon Tubman, Melanie Camp, James Barber, Michael Pohl, Eleanor Stewart, Florence Mato, Jessica Aaltonen and Ngahiriwa Rauhina

At the Ampitheatre, 77 Fairlie Tce
12 – 27 Feb 2010

Book at www.downstage.co.nz

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About the Author ()

Uther was one of the two arts editors in 2009. He was the horoscopier and theatre writer in 2010. Alongside Elle Hunt, Uther was coeditor in 2011.

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