The Merry Wives of Windsor

Director Terry Edward Moore resists the temptation to update the comedy in a Real Housewives context, but instead celebrates its distinction as Shakespeare’s only play set in the time and place of its writing (1590s England). John Falstaff, that dissolute yet lovable pal of Prince Hal in Henry IV, becomes a franchise when Shakespeare plops him down, two centuries after the Battle of Agincourt, in the provincial hamlet of Windsor. Still quaffing sack and pinching wenches, Falstaff (John Patrick Lowrie) here sets his mercenary sights on two married society women, Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page (the charmingly dissimilar Candace Vance and Leslie Law, respectively), who soon discover his duplicate wooing. They then conspire to trick him into a series of humiliations that, in our age of reality TV, seem rather tame. Festooned by Deane Middleton in canary colors, the wives scheme, dissemble, lock pinkies, and nearly extinguish themselves with laughter at their own clever trickery. By the standards of their society, these girls have definitely gone wild. In addition to playing the gloating, scheming, malapropism-spouting Mistress Quickly, Therese Diekhans appears as a magical, unbilled character that the Bard never wrote (but perhaps met). Not in the original folio, sure, but the audience loved it. MARGARET FRIEDMAN

Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: April 21. Continues through May 15, 2011

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