Sir John is back in town. The portly Sir John Falstaff is surely the most beloved of all Shakespeare's comic foils. A liar, braggart and coward -- no wonder he makes audiences happy. He's the perennial know-it-all who seems to have everything going for him until he slips on a banana peel.
Falstaff is best known as a featured player in two of Shakespeare's history plays. But for the next three weeks he will be swaggering through Forest Park as the principal lout in The Merry Wives of Windsor
, this summer's offering from Shakespeare Festival St. Louis
We'll have more to say about the actual production in next week's RFT
. But in the abstract, this lesser comedy (no major critic has much good to say about it) might be ideally suited to SFSL. Unlike the better-known classics, Merry Wives
is a show without expectations. Falstaff should fit right in with wine and cheese and belly dancers and sword swallowers. The entire experience should be agreeably merry.
The plot, you ask? Though it does involve matters of seduction and
lechery, it's not really germane to your having an amiable time. Truth
to tell, there might be more drama going on behind the scenes at SFSL
than onstage. Last month artistic director Dawn McAndrews resigned
after a tenure that barely had time to find its legs. True, last summer's offering, Richard III
, was regrettable, but that choice was in place before McAndrews joined
SFSL. Merry Wives
was to be the first production over which she had
full artistic control. Yet she resigned before it even went into
rehearsal. Now SFSL has mounted a search -- not for a new artistic
director -- but rather for an executive director.
How lame is that?
Apparently the board doesn't believe that artists are necessary to
developing quality theater. No surprise, then, that with the sole
exception of The Tempest
, since its inception in 2001 SFSL has yet to
mount a single production that any objective critic would deem
outstanding.The Merry Wives of Windsor
continues nightly (except Tuesdays) at 8:30 pm. through June 14.
In other offerings this weekend, Chuckle with Chekhov
' self-consciously cute umbrella title for an evening of
Readers Theater devoted to some of Anton Chekhov's lesser-known one-act
plays, translated here as The Celebration
, The Evils of Tobacco
Power of Hypnotism
. It's hard to imagine anyone spending an evening in
Chekhov's company and not feeling better for the experience. Soundstage
has joined the land rush to the Crestwood Plaza ArtSpace.
And First Run Theatre
is giving birth to a new script, The Playing
by John Wolbers. The play will be staged this week and next in
the comfortable auditorium at DeSmet High School in Creve Coeur.