The Merry Wives of Windsor Rock Thornlodge Park

Justin Borrow

Staff Writer

Summer is by far the best time of year; the weather gets warmer, pools and beaches fill with people and best of all, Shakespeare’s most beloved plays become mounted across the city. This summer, Humber River Shakespeare is mounting William Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor across several different parks in the GTA. 

The Merry Wives of Windsor is one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies and it is focused around one of the Bard’s most beloved characters, John Falstaff (Dan Karpenchuk). Falstaff, desperate for money, attempts to woo two women, Mistress Ford (Claire Frances Muir) and Mistress Page (Paula Schultz), but instead, is made a complete fool by the women and their suspecting husbands.

The set, designed by Laura Gardner, was minimal yet effective. It allowed for the audience to focus on the actors' performances. Consisting of a makeshift thrust stage, it was merely a platform for the actors to belt their lines and create the chaos of the show. 

Director Kevin Hammond, who also acted in the show, took this 400-year-old play and gave it a '60s makeover. It worked well and gave the play a fresh personality without taking away too much of Shakespeare’s genius.

The acting was fantastic and the players all clicked. This connection on stage helped keep the play rolling with such thunder. Hugh Barnett, Claire Frances Muir, Kevin Hammond and Paula Schultz all had huge personalities that brought the show to life. Special mention deservedly goes to Phillip Psutka who, with his character of Mistress Quickly, was larger than life and evoked many laughs from the audience. I thoroughly enjoyed watching him have fun on stage and his energy was phenomenal. Dan Karpenchuk gave Falstaff one of the best embodiments I have come across. With his booming, jovial laugh and his boisterous personality, it was hard not to love him and his chaos. 

Humber River Shakespeare’s Production of The Merry Wives of Windsor gives you all the more reason to spend a night out at the park this summer. 

The fun continues across the GTA until Aug. 2. For full listings and locations please visit www.humberrivershakespeare.ca.