In the life of every actor, director, and designer there are those productions that are so painfully misguided that the best anyone can do is get through them graciously, move on to the next project, and try to forget as quickly as possible.
It is highly probable that Genesis Rep's The Merry Wives of Windsor was one of those experiences for all concerned, so why prolong the agony? Setting the Bard's bubbly comedy in a disco on the eve of this country's bicentennial in 1976 at one point must have seemed like an enchanting idea. But somewhere along the way something went seriously wrong, and the resulting production was nothing short of spectacular, although not in the way intended. The performers, while game, seemed totally at sea with the language, resorting to helpless posturing and nervous screeching to make their points, and thus the plot details became incomprehensible. Before long there was little left for the audience (those who stayed, that is) to focus on except an endlessly spinning mirrored ball and a chubby girl on roller skates, endlessly swooshing on and off stage with alarming speed. (Would she crash in the wings? Would she skate right off the edge of the stage? Would she bang into the audience on her way up or down the aisle? Ahhh, the tension!)
Margo Zaro's costumes caught the period perfectly (Falstaff dressed as a pimp, Mistress Quickly like Mama Cass, etc....), although Amy C. Harper's lighting seemed unfinished, and the uncredited, flag-draped red white and blue set seemed half-hearted and bland.
Genesis Rep has been busily making a name for itself with intelligent, highly regarded modern interpretations of classic works, and a misstep was bound to happen. Suffice to say that nothing worked to anyone's advantage with this production, least of all Shakespeare's; leave it at that and move on. NEXT!
(Featuring Josh Blumenfeld, Julian M. Broughton,
Amy K. Brown, Chris Catalano, Ruthie Doyle,
Jillian Dugan, Kelly Freed, Sid Hammond,
Bob Harbaum, Randi Helly, Russell Jayne,
Matthew Klein, Werner Pauliks, Brian Russell,
Robert Saunders, Gina Andrea Seghi, Tommy Sturges,
Kimberly Ver Steeg, Andrew Westney.)
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Copyright 2001 Doug DeVita