The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1723 Tuesday, 12 September 2000.
Date: Monday, 11 Sep 2000 13:55:50 -0400
Subject: CSF Merry Wives of Windsor
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's production of The Merry Wives of
Windsor, directed by R. Chris Reeder, opened on September 7 and runs
through October 1. I saw the show on September 8, and it was
excellent. The costuming is never-neverland 20th century. Caius (Jeff
Groh), for example, wore a flame-colored suit; Sylvester Little, Jr., as
Slender, wore something resembling 1940s zootsuit, and Amy Hutchins --
Mine Host of the Garter -- was dressed rather conventionally in slacks,
jacket and tie.
The stage is two-levelled with stairs to both right and left, and three
exits on the second level. Ford's Keystone Kops searches for Falstaff
take place back and forth through these three upper level exits, while
Mrs. Ford (Anne Schilling) and Mrs. Page (Sherman Fracher) remain below.
The show has only eleven actors, and the doubling (or dodging, if you
prefer David Bradley's term) is intense. For example, Giles Davies
plays both Shallow and Bardolph, Jeff Groh both Caius and Pistol, Amy
Hutchins Mistress Quickly and the Host, Corinne Mohlenhoff Anne Page,
Robin, and William Page, and Joe Verciglio Evans and Fenton. I did not
have my stop watch with me, but some of the changes seem to have been
accomplished in under a minute. In fact, Amy Hutchins (puckishly) has
to do one of her changes (in Act 4) in full view of the audience. It
was a nice comic moment as she shifted character and garments while we
I found Nick Rose convincing as a very fat, but not terribly dissolute,
Falstaff who is deceived by his own greed as much as by the merry
wives. Jeremy Dubin's Ford was equally well done, and I was pleased
that his disguise as Brook was not overdone. In this production, the
Fords seem to be younger than the Pages, played by Brian Isaac Phillips
and Ms. Sherman Fracher. Their relative youth (rather than Ford's
perversity) may account for the fact that they have no children.
I recommend this production to anyone who can get to Cincinnati to see
Yours, Bill Godshalk