|photo by Andrew Eccles|
by Kelly Bedard
The Merry Wives of Windsor is not a particularly great play on its own merits. It’s a silly “one more time, just for the financial benefit” retreading of beloved characters from superior plays (most notably, Henry IV’s breakout star Falstaff). It can be amusing, I would imagine, if staged innovatively with the unhelpfully broad weak points sidestepped in interesting ways. Almost anything can be at least enjoyable if cast right and directed well (I even found a Comedy of Errors that I liked last spring). But Stratford director Frank Galati didn’t even take a stab at innovation- he just cast well and leaned the incredible weight of a major mainstage production on the actors’ shoulders- not something even the best in company can handle on their own.
Geraint Wyn Davies is an interesting subject, speaking of theatrical titans. The scene-stealing star promised to be a highlight of the season when he was handed one of The Bard’s greatest roles. And don’t get me wrong, his Falstaff isn’t the least bit bad. I am growing tired of his plethora of UK accents when his costars aren’t using them, but Wyn Davies’ Falstaff is generally a bright and amusing interpretation. Amusing, not hilarious. Maybe it’s my own fault but with an actor of Wyn Davies’ caliber I was expecting hilarious, I was expecting greatness. I got merely good.
|photos by David Hou|
Bolstered by a truly sensational cast, Frank Galati’s uninspired Merry Wives of Windsor is passably good, if only for the sheer star power of standouts like Rooney, Condlln and Peacock.
The Merry Wives of Windsor plays at the Festival Theatre in Stratford, ON until October 14th.