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“The Merry Wives of Windsor”

Shakespeare always seems to me to benefit from an outdoor location, because at some stage there seems to be a woodland scene in most of his plays!  The Inn on the Park is a minimal location, that allows the actors to make the most of the words, without having to worry too much about scenery and props.

I enjoyed this production, there was plenty of humour and expression, along with good looking costumes – I particularly liked Mistresses Page and Ford’s dresses.  

Like all Shakespeare, the story was complicated and convoluted, but the cast delivered with pace and an understanding of the words, which communicated itself to the audience.  I would have liked a little more projection from Page, Simple and Nym at times, as those characters seem to turn away from the audience without raising the level of their voices sufficiently to make what they were saying readily audible.

Jon Baker created an amusing character as Slender, very lively too.  Whilst Graeme Shaw was extremely funny as Dr Caius, I really enjoyed his accent and the mis-saying of words – great fun.

John Kensett gave us a slightly bemused Falstaff, the transition to women’s clothes and his overall portrayal was very good as always, and I loved the beating of Falstaff by Ford, where it was accomplished behind the hedge, with plenty of movement from the hedge, a well-choreographed scene.

Simon Ellis as Hugh Evans was excellent – I understood every word he said, his delivery was sharp with good audience communication.

Abigail Giles and Liz Mills as Mistresses Page and Ford were a super duo, who employed their devious plans well, with some hilarity on their part, which was very entertaining.  I thought they interacted really well.

Joshy Toogood-Davis played Robin and a Fairy on the night I attended, he has a lively face and gave his lines good expression, but needed to face the audience more at times.

Anne Hollis as Mistress Quickly projected well, and made her words very meaningful, whilst maintaining a slightly more restrained approach, which was a good contrast.

Clare Waller as Shallow was a good foil to Slender – one very serious and one very quirky.

I liked Mark Snelling as Ford, who doubted the intentions of his wife with Falstaff – it made for some very amusing moments, particularly when he was disguised as Ford to try and trip Falstaff up.

David Martin played Pistol with his usual ease – he seems to take Shakespeare and run with it, making it a natural and understandable portrayal.

I felt that Lee Wilkinson as Page could have played up to his wife more, he seemed to be a little too laid back in his approach.

I liked the portrayal adopted by Becci Hurst as Simple, a good contrast to the other characters.

Lesley Cowland was Nym – one of Falstaff’s men – unfortunately she was rather overshadowed by Pistol, and didn’t really get a chance to make her mark.  

Hannah Barnes was a charming Anne Page, who didn’t want to marry her parents choice of suitors, and managed to run away and marry her choice in the shape of Fenton, played by Gerard Kelly.  A good pairing.

Vicki Harris and Jill Davies played both the Host and John really well, and I enjoyed Owen Davies portrayals of Rugby and Robert.

Overall a good production with a strong cast, with lots of pace and contrasts that made it very interesting and engaging, we were also lucky with the weather, it was a little chilly, but it didn’t rain, always a plus for outdoor productions.

Breakaway Theatre Company


Director: Dawn Hudson

review date: 20th July 2017

The Inn on the Park, St.Albans


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