Shakespeare’s bawdy Merry Wives of Windsor has been revitalized by Wooden O in their ambitious adaptation of the classic comedy. Directed by Corey McDaniel and starring Charles Leggett as Sir John Falstaff, Wooden O’s take on the farce sets the play in the late 60s. This affectation quickly builds from a fun aside to the central element of several increasingly ludicrous and suitably ambitious set pieces. The sum is an excellent adaptation of the comparatively obscure Shakespeare comedy, proving a must-see from Wooden O’s summer in the park season.
The story of Falstaffs woebegotten trsyt with Mistress Ford, the play besets the hapless knight from all directions with misfortune, jealous husbands, and merry, teasing wives, all who conspire against his lasciviousness. This flurry is perfectly captured in the central piece of Set design, as created by, with a flowery, many-windowed wall recalling Laugh In.
The wall allows the cast to play with the farce in inventive ways- a chase scene in the middle of the play and the delirious, brilliantly choreographed finale make excellent use of the wall for a series of punchlines and physical gags. This opens the play up to a general audience and fills it with easy, entertaining gags. A playlist of nostalgic 60s and 70s hits runs throughout, similarly adding to the fun.
At the center of Wooden O’s production is the excellent Leggett as the odious Falstaff, but the true star of the show is the paranoid Master Ford, played by Reginald Andre Jackson with a twitchy, gradually more reckless comic fury as the man tries to thwart Falstaffs already unreciprocated love affair with Ford’s wife. He steals the show, while the rest of the cast delivers a fast paced and ample production. Wooden O proves itself adept in its second show of the summer.
Wooden O shows are free; for more information on their touring schedule for the summer, go to http://www.seattleshakespeare.org/shows/the-merry-wives-of-windsor-2018/.