Report by:  Rhoda Fraser on Friday 24 July 2015
Venue:  Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond
Director:  Gary Winn

Well done to Gary Winn, Director, and cast and crew for a slick and entertaining second night of William Shakespeare’s, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, the RADS summer production which ran for two weeks at the Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond.

It is the story of Sir John Falstaff, who is on his “uppers” and hopes to seduce two wealthy married women, Mistress Ford (Alice Johnson) and Mistress Page (Moira Mason) to obtain an easier life for himself.  He sends them identical love letters, but the ladies confide in each other and are not amused. Deciding to get their own back and play him along at his own game, the two ladies give us some hilarious moments, especially trying to hide the overweight gent in a linen basket. Congratulations to Mike Walker, as Falstaff, for coping with the extensive paunch and the aunt’s costume, the audience loved you.

Mr Page and Mr Ford are eventually told of the plot and together they devise a final plan leading Falstaff to Windsor forest. Page and Ford were very confidently played by father and son Warnock and Stewart Kerr, and the forest scene was most enjoyable. Well done to Julie Winn and Pam Walker for the lovely costumes, and Jim Brown for the atmospheric lighting.

The play also had a sub-plot, where young Anne Page (Lucy Owens) had three different suitors, Dr Caius (Bruce Cunningham) Master Slender (Max Walker) and Master Fenton (Robert Capon). We followed the twists and turns of their romance, or non-romance!

RADS seem to have a happy knack of matching the right people to the most suitable parts. I have to mention a great favourite, Lynne Kerr, as Mistress Quickly, who nimbly acted as the go-between, and Beki Harrison, as young servant Simple, whose face took on a life of its own. Great entertainment! Director Gary cast three women in “gent’s” parts, one of the others being the Host (Julie Winn), who never lost her stance as the aloof gent, strutting his stuff, well done.

Congratulations to Stage manager Alex Caffrey and her backstage crew who kept the ball rolling. I loved the back projection which added to the atmosphere of the show. I was not quite sure about the final song and dance, but it sent us home with a smile on our faces. RADS once again gave a good evening’s entertainment.  It is lovely to see the young people joining the group and growing in experience.



The Merry Wives of Windsor, Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond

Friday 7 August 2015 /  D&S Times / Arts

   The opening night of this production by Richmond Amateur Dramatic Society was certainly a merry affair.This grand tale of deceit, frivolity and revenge was for the most part fast-paced and had a few surprises thrown in. Directed by Gary Winn, with a simple but effective stage design, there was a lot to enjoy.

   With Shakespeare’s play first printed in 1602 and performed in a theatre built in 1788, it would be easy to imagine it has little relevance to today’s world. However, with a few tweaks, it remains as fresh and bright as ever. The addition of a 1920s' theme music during stage changes and some great costumes made it was exactly what it should be – light and fun.

   The play is set in Windsor and projections on to a screen added to visual effects.

The cast warmed to the piece as the evening moved on, and in the second half were clearly more relaxed and having a jolly time of it.

   Among the leading performances, Alice Johnson was sharp and twinkly. Gregan Davis was a delight as Sir Hugh Evans, as was Robert Capon as Master Fenton. Mike Walker was a hoot as Sir John Falstaff, with excellent comedic timing.

   All in all, RADS should be proud of themselves, from Jim Brown keeping things sharp with the sound and lighting to Alex Caffrey’s stage management. The surprise in store at the end was an unexpected delightful song and dance finale with a couple of fine voices shining through. The setting was apt and the performance fun.

Amanda Adams

" I do begin to perceive that I am made an ass."

Mistresses Page and Ford are the witty, collusive and indomitable Merry Wives of Windsor. Hard up and seeking to restore his riches, lovable rogue Sir John Falstaff attempts to seduce both of them simultaneously. But the wooed Windsor women see through his schemes, which go awry—with disastrous and hilarious consequences.

THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR  was one of the first English language plays to celebrate middle class characters, and to feature women as the prime movers of the comedy. Tradition has it that, after watching  Henry IV Part I, Elizabeth I asked Shakespeare to write a play showing Falstaff in love. Hence: Sir John in love, or lust, or greed (nobody's quite sure which) with those merry wives...