Review: The Merry Wives of Windsor

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The Quad at St Trevelyan College was the venue for the latest Sixth Side Theatre Company production, a lighthearted rendition of William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, which proved a strong performance. The audience sat within the hexagonal Trev’s Quad were masterfully transported to Shakespeare’s evocation of the Windsor of Elizabethan England, where mischievous humour and debauchery mingle with amorous adventure. Under the impressive direction of Ben Cawood, the cast proved successful – with many first-time actors, it felt very much like an amateur production but was nonetheless one filled with quaint, delightful scenes, rich with comic subtlety and much laughter.

Notably, gave a brilliant performance as the Hostess, her mastery of comic innuendo and other farcical tropes a strong asset to the production. Meanwhile, Alex Davies’ rendition of Falstaff was resplendent with humour, which flowed through his many charismatic and charming monologues, whether they be about food, wine, or women. Davies provided a convincing evocation of the indefatigable and boisterous old man, that drew laughter throughout, and he was able to pull off the strong stage presence required for this role.

While the production seemed at times to lose its full grasp of pace and plot, with the already somewhat bizarre and convoluted play often becoming tough to follow, the audience visibly enjoys the production, and there was a general atmosphere of tremendous satisfaction and joy. Also noteworthy were the many small but significant comic decisions. From Mr Ford’s randomly donning a rainbow-coloured moustache, to the scene which is sure to go down in the history of Trev’s college, of Falstaff climbing into a Durham County Council wheelie bin to hide at one key scene. Indeed, the essential essence of this Shakespeare play, which revolves around the sardonic, jester-like Falstaff’s febrile attempts to seduce the wives of two wealthy merchants in order to escape financial difficulty, was certainly captured in the somewhat sporadic but charming comedy that infused this production.

Altogether, this version of The Merry Wives of Windsor laid on at Trev’s college by the Sixth Side Theatre Company provided some much-needed light relief and farcical comedy after another year’s study wraps up. Evidently, the cast and crew should be incredibly proud of the hard yards they have put in over a very brief period to deliver this highly humorous and entertaining show.

Image: Sixth Side Theatre Company

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