The Merry Wives of Windsor at First Folio Theatre

first foio theatreBy William Shakespeare

Directed by Nick Sandys
At First Folio Theatre, Oakbrook

A Summer Night of Funny

Imagine a beautiful warm summer evening on an estate with large lawns and gorgeous trees. You have easy parking and can take your own home cooked favorites for a picnic, or not. The top-notch live production was written by the best playwright in the world.  No, you are not dreaming.  You can find this enchantment with First Folio Theatre’s, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and all for a very modest cost.

first folio theatre

Shakespeare’s very funny comedy begins with the conniving ways of a roly-poly Sir John Falstaff (Brian McCartney) to seduce not one but two wives (Mistress Ford-Lydia Berger Gray; and Mistress Page-Patrice Egleston). The wives conspire on creative antics to see that Falstaff gets his comeuppance which offer hysterical situations. The play raises the concerns of trust, greed, deception, chaos, and love.

first folio theatreThe setting, a small middle-class town that bustles with the English life, includes 21 actors!   Each quickly establishes a distinguishable character in spite of the large number, and each looks comfortable in their characters’ skin.  They all also appear to be having a jolly good time, as does the audience.   The casting was brilliant, and the diction from everyone came across with clarity and especially the appropriate understandable speed.  My hat is off to the Director, Nick Sandys for monitoring this detail of speed, often an error in some Shakespearean productions.

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 For this reason, “Merry Wives” would be excellent for a novice to Shakespeare and a hoot for the experienced. For example, Joe Foust as Master Page causes belly laughs when he goes bananas in a jealous rage.  Christian Gray presents a sight to see as a very unique French doctor.   Among several others gems is Caroline Kingsley (Mistress Quickly), who lights up the stage each time she enters.  
Sandys’ attention to many period details enriches the whole feeling of the play…a servant throws a bucket of water off the second floor balcony…a church bell rings far off in the distance at precisely the right moment…pacing moves perfectly.
The quality of “The Merry Wives” does not surprise, since First Folio has received 25 Jeff nominations or awards in just the last ten years.  Under the leadership of David Rice (Executive Director) and Alison Vesely (Artistic Director), suburbanites can enjoy a first rate theater, and this particular show is a good fun night! 

Margaret Eva
Reviewed – July 17, 2014
Performances:   Wednesday thru Sunday at 8:15 p.m.
Mayslake Peabody Estate
1717 W. 31st St. (Just west of Route #83)
Oak Brook, IL
Free Parking 
Tickets:  $30 to $37 (students and seniors- $32-$26).

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