Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa

Photo credit:  Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Over the top, a bit bawdy, satirical and ridiculously fun are a few descriptors of the modern day production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa that only the Oregon Shakespeare Festival could bring to the stage.  Leading the pack of characters is Senator John Falstaff (perfectly portrayed by David Kelly) who tanked the Iowa caucuses and is flat broke and formulating a less than honorable way to get the financial backing to either get out of town or restore his political career.  

Set in the farming community of Windsor, Iowa (same sex marriage is actually legal in the state of Iowa) Senator Falstaff plans to woo two married woman in order to glean their money.  Margaret Page (Terri McMahon), a heterosexual farmer's wife and Alice Ford (Gina Daniels), a lesbian professional golfer's wife are the senator's targets; convinced one of them will fall prey to his charms and betting the same sex marriage will crumble first.  He is shameless!

Not counting on the fact that in Windsor, Iowa everyone knows everyone else, the senator's plot falls apart as the two wives secretly come together and plan their revenge on the good senator. At the same time the town folk are looking forward to the annual Iowa State Fair where every year there is a butter cow; a life size cow sculpted of butter, and where Alice Ford wins a multitude of ribbons each year for her crafts.

Add in Reverend Hugh Evans (Daniel T. Parker) who proudly boasts his love of Canadian hockey and his love of the Church of Unbroken Rainbows, a peppy squad of local cheerleaders, Roberta Shallow (Isabell Monk O'Connor) the Mayor of Windsor and the bee-hive poodle skirt wearing manager of the Come On Inn (Judith-Marie Bergan) and two "straight" teenagers who want to go against the societal grain and marry, and what you have is a recipe for zaniness!

Adapted by Alison Carey and directed by Christopher Liam Moore, this production of The Merry Wives would surely please the Bard himself because of the truth behind the humor.  The production touches on many tough issues of the current day although it may not balance with everyone's personal moral compass, given the number of audience members who left during the show.  But isn't that what great theater is all about... making one think and question?

With a running time of approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, including a 15-minute intermission, OSF recommends this play as being appropriate for students 14-years and older.  Now showing at the Elizabethan Theater until October 13.

To read more:  www.OSFAshland.org

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