The Bardís rogue outfoxed in an
inspired Merry Wives of Windsor
The Colorado Springs Independent,
January 20, 2005
What more fun than to see a rogue undone, And
what better rogue than Shakespeare's Sir John.
Knight, knave and buffoon whose cowardice was
only exceeded by his audacious conniving, Sir John Falstaff was one
of Shakespeare's best-loved characters. In a life defined by wine,
women and song, he became an anti-hero of the Elizabethan stage in
the Henry IV historical dramas.
If Falstaff has a modern counterpart, it took
the Star Bar Players' opening night presentation of The Merry Wives
of Windsor to remind me that it's the late British comedian Benny
Hill. Best known for his television sketch show, Hill spent his time
lusting after women only to flee with a mob in chase when his
lascivious intentions were revealed.
Falstaff not only exhibits many of Hill's traits, but
director Mark Hennessy and his talented actors have harnessed this
theme to invigorate one of Shakespeare's lesser-known works with an
energy that literally leaps off the stage.
But first to the play.
Falstaff, played by the rambunctious David
Plambeck, embarks on a plan to seduce two respectable housewives to
gain access to their husbands' fortunes. The wives, mischievously
portrayed by Crystal Verdon and Jane Fromme, are horrified to be
wooed by such a wretch and they concoct a plan to teach Falstaff a
In true Shakespearean style, the
inauthenticity of Falstaff's romantic intentions is paralleled with
a story of true love. Anne Page, played by a sassy Tori Humpert, is
a voluptuous maid whose suitors include a French doctor, a Welsh
parson and a village fool. But Page's true love is Fenton, a
not-too-honorable dandy who does not meet with her parents'
And therein lie the plots: Will the rogue get
his just desserts ? Will the dandy fall for the maid? And will true
love prevail? Have no fear, Shakespeare loves a Hollywood ending and
this comedy is no exception.
Often an opening night is fraught with nerves
as a show finds its rhythm, but this was not the case for The Star
Bar Players last Friday. The action was well executed and the few
stumbles were recovered easily, very often by clever ad-libs that
added to the mirth.
Refusing to be limited by the size of the
theater, the actors were all over the auditorium as well as on the
streets and landmarks of our city -- to see how this was achieved
you'll just have to go to the show.
Overall, the performances are wonderful and
Kaleb Kohart's psychotically jealous Master Ford is a fearsome
delight. Amy Brooks is hilarious as a foppish French doctor, and the
slapstick antics of Sam Gleason and Doug Chartier created a sense of
anticipation each time they walked, stumbled or were wheeled on
The bare stage with few props is rendered
unimportant by the physicality of the performances and an eclectic
soundtrack ranging from the Batman theme to George McCrae's soul hit
Rock Your Baby.
Roles are reversed, right is wronged and
wrongs are finally righted. Falstaff's plans are thwarted just as
Benny Hill never gets the girl. Of course true love prevails. We,
the audience, live out our fantasies, guffaw at the foolhardy and
root for the lovers.
In Merry Wives , Shakespeare wrote the endings
we all love to live; The Star Bar Players bring them wonderfully to
light in this raucous production.
- by Wayne Young