“Merry Wives” woos with whimsical hijinks

 

Last week, the Malone University Theatre put on the Shakespearean comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. Under the direction of Tammie McKenzie, the show ran from March 27-31 and showcased a wide range of talent from both the cast and crew.

One of Shakespeare’s more obscure comedies, Merry Wives tells several stories entwined around a group of people in the town of Windsor. The daughter of Master and Mistress Page, Anne, has several suitors. Anne wants to marry one man but her parents each want her to marry someone different.

The Malone University Theatre performed Merry Wives of Windsor last week in Founders Hall. The production placed the spotlight on one of Shakespeare's more obscure comedies. (Photo courteousy of Bob Moffit)

Meanwhile, Sir John Falstaff schemes to woo Mistress Page and Mistress Ford in order to gain access to their husbands’ money. The two merry wives, played by senior Julia Belden and junior Alexis McCullough, respectively, quickly discover his intent and plot to publicly embarrass Falstaff in return for his behavior.

Immediately noticeable was the very detailed and well-crafted set, designed by technical director Jim Brothers. The set consisted of several pieces that could be turned and rearranged by the deck crew to create the backgrounds for all the different scenes.

Brothers has created the scenery for many Malone productions. His expertise was evident in the intricate, versatile atmosphere created for the characters.

Anyone who has been required to read Shakespeare’s works for an English class knows how difficult the language can be to understand. However, the cast of Merry Wives delivered the lines in a way that made the dialogue both accessible for the most part and extremely entertaining. A large part of the delivery was in larger-than-life movements and gestures that accompanied the dialogue.

Junior Brook Pittinger, for example, utilized the entire stage for his character, the drunken Falstaff. The cast as a whole did this as well. In a few instances, the blocking seemed stiff or caused certain characters to be hidden from view, but this hardly detracted from the overall staging of the play.

Shakespeare’s clever humor played a big role in keeping the audience entertained. Even when it was difficult to understand some of the dialogue, the cast members’ delivery provided enough context to keep the story going.

The cast developed their characters well and formed a strong connection with the audience. Everyone involved in the production did a wonderful job of putting on the show in a way that brought new life and uniqueness to the centuries-old work.

Blaire Thompson is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.

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