The Merry Wives of Windsor
Director Peter Moss has done it up neatly as a star turn for William Hutt, as the fat fool, Sir John Falstaff… Hutt is done up like Santa Claus for the part, a huge white beard and flowing hair over a pillow-stuffed belly. And his big, florid face completes the St. Nick effect. His performance is a good one, all petulant posturing and arch pauses. If anything, in fact, it was too much a star turn—making the paunchy fool too noble and likeable a character for the buffoon he’s shown to be. The intended cuckold, Mrs. Fords husband, Frank, has the other plum role… The excellent Alan Scarfe gets the role here, and does what he can to make Ford the sputtering, pop-eyed figure of fun he should be. But somehow he ends up taking a back seat most of the night, and what could be the play’s best role flits away from him. Only once when, in a fit of jealousy, he fires an entire hamperful of clothes into the air, does he bring down the house as he’s meant to. That’s a problem that rather defines this production, and it’s hard to tell just why. Most of the supporting cast—Blythe, Phipps, William Needles, Lewis Gordon, Tom Wood and especially Mary Savidge and Richard McMillan—give decent performances or better… I was particularly impressed last night with McMillan as Simple, a dunce of a servant who was the absolute embodiment of vacant stupidity every time you glanced his way. Savidge is also worth singling out as by far the most energetic actor on stage; playing the busybody matchmaker Mistress Quickly, she sucked attention away from everyone everywhere she went. Gordon and Needles, meanwhile, have never given anything near a bad performance any time I’ve seen them. And they were both stalwart support troops here again. (Bryan Johnson, Globe and Mail 7 June 1978)
KeywordsBack Seat Christian Science Monitor Energetic Actor Seaside Resort Decent Performance
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